Unpaid Wages

Massachusetts workers are entitled to the prompt payment of wages. In Massachusetts, wages must be paid within seven days of being earned. When wages are considered earned depends on the timeframe according to which an employee is paid.  An employer who withholds wages that have been earned is violating both Massachusetts and federal law and can be subject to severe penalties, including paying triple the amount withheld from the employee.

Wages must be paid for all time that is "suffered or permitted" by an employer.  This means that an employee who does work "off-the-clock" is entitled to be paid wages for all time spent doing the work, regardless of whether the employer demanded that the employee to do the work or simply allowed the work to be performed.

A good example of off-the-clock work that is commonly suffered or permitted by an employer is work performed during a meal break.  Busy workers in hectic environments such as waiters, retail staff or healthcare providers may have to work through their lunch breaks to keep an understaffed business operating, even if they are 'supposed' to be taking breaks.  Regrettably, many employers have adopted pay practices that automatically deduct breaks, without checking whether the breaks are actually taken. As a result, workers who sacrifice their breaks to avoid creating chaos for their employers end up working significant amounts of time without compensation.

Another example of off-the-clock work commonly suffered or permitted involves jobs that require substantial advance preparation.  A worker who must do 'prep-work' for his job is generally entitled to compensation for time spent doing the 'prep-work'.  An employer may not legally designate substantial duties of an employee as 'prep-work' and thereby avoid paying wages.  All time spent at work should be compensated.

It is important to remember that you are not powerless when it comes to dealing with your employer.  Massachusetts law actually provides workers with powerful rights that can be exercised when an employer engages in illegal conduct.  Even if an employer's withholding of wages is not intentional, workers are still entitled to triple damages for unpaid wages under Massachusetts law.  Contact our office today for a free case evaluation or fill out the form on the right.