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Wage and Hour Attorney Boston

wage and hour attorney in boston

Wage and Hour Attorney Boston

When you need a wage and hour attorney to assist with employment law issues at work, the Boston attorneys at Bennett & Belfort, P.C. are here to support you.  Located just minutes away from Boston, Massachusetts, Bennett & Belfort’s lawyers are a trusted resource for employees who have been terminated and have wage and hour issues that require the assistance of attorneys.   

 

Expert Analysis of Employment Situation

If your employment has ended and you require a wage and hour attorney in Boston Massachusetts, contact Bennett & Belfort, P.C.’s team of Employment Law attorneys that can discuss your employment, termination, review compensation and/or wage and hour issues, and assess whether discrimination has occurred.

 

Detailed Assessment of Legal Claims

In reviewing whether your employer has committed a wage and hour violation, engaged in retaliation and/or wrongful termination, or discriminated against you, the attorneys at Bennett & Belfort, P.C. will assess the facts of your employment.  This will include a detailed analysis of the agreed-to compensation, the employee’s work schedule, services performed, employer’s payment practices, and whether the employee has potential legal claims for age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race/color discrimination, national origin discrimination, gender discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, retaliation, claims in contract, and/or wage claims for violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act.  Bennett & Belfort attorneys may review the employee’s pay stubs and personnel records to assess whether there has been a violation of law.   

Negotiation and Litigation Expertise

The negotiation and litigation of wage and hour claims is one of the core practice areas of our firm.  Employees across Massachusetts have retained Bennett & Belfort, P.C. to review their severance package—which often includes a discussion of the employee’s employment contract—at which point the individual can decide whether to accept the offer of pay from the employer, negotiate better terms, or pursue litigation.  If Bennett & Belfort, P.C. is retained to negotiate your severance agreement, it may—if you so choose—contact your former employer on your behalf to discuss the offer, discuss potential laws that have been violated, and the pros and cons of what litigation would entail.       

If an employee believes they have a wage and hour claim against their employer and/or they feel they were retaliated against for requesting their wages, there are certain criteria that should be assessed.

 

Understanding Massachusetts Wage Laws

Bennett & Belfort lawyers will explain what is required to prove a wage and hour violation under Massachusetts law.  The Massachusetts Wage Act, M.G.L. c. 149, §§ 148, 150, requires employers to pay employees all earned wages in full at the time of termination.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court—the highest court in Massachusetts—has ruled that “the statute leaves no wiggle room” and it is a strict liability law.  Reuter v. City of Methuen, 489 Mass. 465 (2022).  The purpose of this law is to prevent the unreasonable retention of earned wages by employers.  Weems v. Citigroup, Inc., 453 Mass. 147, 150 (2009).  Employees who prevail under the Wage Act are entitled to mandatory treble damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.  M.G.L. c. 149, § 150.

Filing Complaints and Lawsuits

Massachusetts law sets forth an avenue for possible resolution of wage complaints on both a civil and criminal level.  Depianti v. Jan-Pro Franchising Intern., Inc., 465 Mass. 607, 611-13 (2013), citing M.G.L. c. 149, § 150.  In the civil context, employees who experience violations of various wage laws, including the Wage Act, are directed to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.  M.G.L. c. 149, § 150.  Suit may commence 90 days after the filing of the complaint, or upon receipt of the Attorney General’s permission.  Id. 

The employee has the burden to show that their employee failed to pay wages due and owing.  In doing so, the employee will show that there was an agreement between the parties, and the employer did not issue wages despite the employee performing the employment services.  The employee will often argue that the employer decided to terminate the employee and not issue payment on time.  489 Mass. at 778 (“if you choose to terminate an employee you must be prepared to pay him or her in full when you do so.”).

Provisions of the Massachusetts Wage Act

The purported reason(s) why the employer terminated the employee has no bearing on whether or not they violated the Wage Act.  Id.; see also Parker v. EnerNOC, Inc., 484 Mass. 128, 136-137 (2020) (Employers are prohibited from escaping liability under the Wage Act by retaliating against employees to avoid paying commissions that would otherwise be due and payable).  The retention of employee wages is precisely what the Wage Act was enacted to prevent.  See Weems v. Citigroup, Inc., 453 Mass. 147, 150 (2009) (Massachusetts courts recognize that the purpose of the Wage Act is to prevent the unreasonable retention of earned wages by employers).

The Wage Act is a strict liability statute and includes no language as to why employers failed to pay employees wages.  Somers v. Converged Access, Inc., 454 Mass. 582, 591 (2009).  In other words, intent of the employers plays no role.  Id.

Bennett & Belfort attorneys will explain that in addition to the company, the employee may file a lawsuit against certain individuals if certain criteria are met.  The Wage Act provides that “[t]he president and treasurer of a corporation and any officers or agents having the management of such corporation shall be deemed to be the employers of the employees of the corporation within the meaning of this section.”  M.G.L. c. 149, § 148.

In Cook v. Patient EDU, LLC, 465 Mass. 548, 553 (2013), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that an officer or agent of a company can be individually liable under the Wage Act if he or she “controls, directs, and participates to a substantial degree in formulating and determining policy of the business entity.”  If the employer is an LLC, the court should examine the individuals’ liability under the standard set forth in Cook.    

Criteria for Individual Liability

A court will assess many factors in assessing individual liability under the Wage Act, including the individual’s title and ownership interest, decision-making power as to payment of wages, authority to hire and terminate employees of the company, the employee’s supervisor, and check-signing authority for the company.

Protection Against Retaliation

Additionally, an employer is prohibited from terminating an employee because the employee requested unpaid wages.  Under M.G.L. c. 149, § 148A, it is unlawful for an employer to penalize an employee for taking an action to enforce their rights under the Wage Act.  The law states, in pertinent part, the following:

No employee shall be penalized by an employer in any way as a result of any action on the part of an employee to seek his or her rights under the wages and hours provisions of this chapter.

Any employer who discharges or in any other manner discriminates against any employee because such employee has made a complaint to the attorney general or any other person, or assists the attorney general in any investigation under this chapter, or has instituted, or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this chapter … shall have violated this section …

“A complaint made to an employer (or a manager of the employer) by an employee who reasonably believes that the wages he or she has been paid violate [the Wage Act] readily qualifies as such an ‘action.’”  Smith v. Winter Place, LLC, 447 Mass. 363, 367 (2006) (Emphasis added).  An employer is prohibited from retaliating against the employee for taking such action.  Id. at 364.     

The entire purpose of this law is to ensure that employees are not penalized for asserting their rights under the Wage Act.  See Fraelick v. PerkettPR, Inc., 83 Mass. App. Ct. 698, 704 (2013).  See Smith, 447 Mass. at 363 (the purpose of the anti-retaliation provision is “to encourage enforcement of the wage laws by protecting employees who complain about violations of the same.”); see also Cook, 465 Mass. at 551-552 (“If a liberal, even if not literally exact, interpretation of certain words [in the Wage Act] is necessary to accomplish the purpose indicated by the words as a whole, such interpretation is to be adopted rather than one which will defeat that purpose”).

If an employee who has a wage and hour claim against their employer would like to pursue litigation in Boston, Massachusetts, the attorneys at Bennett & Belfort, P.C. will assess your compensation to and proceed accordingly

If the employee believes that the severance agreement offer from its former employer is insufficient and/or the severance agreement negotiations have not resulted in a suitable severance offer, litigation may ensue.  Bennett & Belfort attorneys have litigated cases across Massachusetts. 

Filing with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

The first step is often a filing with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).  The MCAD has jurisdiction to hear cases of discrimination in Massachusetts, including age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race/color discrimination, national origin discrimination, gender discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, and retaliation.

Turn to experienced wage and hour attorneys located near Boston, Massachusetts to represent you against your employer

At Bennett & Belfort, our attorneys have been litigating wage and hour claims on behalf of employees for years.  Our attorneys are skilled in many practice areas and, when assessing potential legal claims, account for Massachusetts wage laws, discrimination claims, sexual harassment claims, contract matters, employee leave, and all legal claims.

Contact a Bennett & Belfort wage and hour attorney located near Boston, Massachusetts

If your employer has negatively affected your compensation, including issues having to do with wage and hour, in or around Boston, Massachusetts, feel free to contact Bennett & Belfort, P.C. online or by telephone at (617) 577-8800.  To speak with an experienced wage and hour attorney near Boston, MA, employees can contact Bennett & Belfort, P.C.  

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