Employers frequently do not properly pay employees for overtime. In some cases, the unpaid overtime (or underpaid overtime) is the result of not understanding how the overtime laws work; in other cases such non-payment (or underpayment) may be deliberate.
In either case, the non-payment or underpayment is wrong and illegal. The reason for non-payment does not matter.
As Boston unpaid overtime lawyers serving clients throughout Massachusetts, we are experienced in unpaid overtime cases, our practice is devoted to protecting worker rights, including their right to be paid fairly under the law. If you are not being fairly paid for overtime under the law, we invite you to call us to learn about your options and how we can help.
The Overtime Payment Laws Can Be Complex
The requirements to pay overtime can depend upon the type of job, the number of hours worked during a day, the number of hours worked during a particular pay period, and other circumstances.
EXEMPT vs. NON-EXEMPT
What is an Exempt Employee?
Exempt employees are not subject to various protections such as minimum wage laws, overtime, and certain other regulations. Exempt employees are traditionally at the management level or above, and are paid by a salary instead of by the number of hours that they work.
What is a Non-Exempt Employee?
Non-exempt employees are paid based upon the number of hours that they work, and they must be paid for overtime and in accordance with state and federal regulations governing wages and hours worked. Non-exempt employees tend to be workers below managerial levels.
How Some Employers Seek to Avoid the Laws that Apply to Non-Exempt Employees
Some employers try to avoid the wage and hour, overtime, and other laws that apply to non-exempt employees by trying to make them “exempt” employees through giving them managerial-type titles and paying them by a salary, rather than paying them based upon the number of hours worked. More specifically, the employer might pay employees a salary that would be lower than what the employer would otherwise pay if it were paying hourly rates and required overtime.
The law (and courts) do not permit this. Even if an employee is paid a salary, if her duties make her non-exempt, she may still be entitled to overtime based on her hourly rate.
Other Matters Affecting Overtime
Additionally, matters such as when a work day started, how breaks are counted, and when a work day ends can affect whether a worker is entitled to overtime pay. In situations where employees “clock in” and “clock out” it may be clear when a working day starts and ends, while in other situations a start time and end time may be less clear. As an example, in some situations employees may start the day by having to drive to an “off-premises” location to work.
In order to determine whether proper overtime payments have been made, it is critical to understand when the work day starts and stops, and what breaks should or should not be counted toward the work day. We understand these complex laws and can provide advice as to whether an employer is paying the required overtime in any given circumstance.
Independent Contractor Misclassification
Misclassification of workers as independent contractors instead of employees is another complicating matter in overtime wage matters. Many employers try to skirt wage and hour laws, including overtime requirements, by treating a worker as an independent contractor, often through entering into an “independent contractor” agreement.
Such agreements, despite their terms, will often not be determinative as to whether the worker actually is an independent contractor. In Massachusetts, it is extremely difficult to classify a worker as an independent contractor. In most cases, based upon the nature of the work relationship, the worker will need to be treated under the law as an employee, and thus entitled to overtime pay and substantial other benefits. For more information on this matter, please see our page on “independent contractor misclassification.”
Demanding Full Back Payment and Damages
In Massachusetts, there are important laws referred to as the “statute of limitations” that affect when claims must be brought. In the case of unpaid (or underpaid) overtime that may have been ongoing for several years, it will be critical to file a lawsuit as soon as possible, as the date when such lawsuit is filed will determine how far back in time lost wages and damages may be recovered. When we learn about the circumstances of a claim, we can explain how the applicable statute of limitations may apply to your case.
Can Multiple Employees Sue at One Time for Unpaid Overtime?
Often, employers who owe compensation and damages for unpaid overtime will owe such overtime wages only to one person, but also to many other similarly-situated people. As an example, an employer may owe unpaid overtime to a number of workers in a factory or workers at a large grocery store or fast-food franchise.
In these cases, we can file a class-action claim, whereby one lawsuit can be filed on behalf of all workers in the “class.” Filing a class action is usually advantageous for those who have been harmed, as it in effect gives them the opportunity to “band together” by having one law firm represent them. Additionally, the claims of an individual worker may not be large enough to make it feasible for an attorney to represent her, but collectively, the claims of a class of workers does allow an attorney to make the sufficient investment in a case.
Call Us for Free Consultation to Find Out If We Can Help
If you believe that you are not being paid properly for overtime or for any other aspect of your wages, we would invite you to call our firm for a free initial consultation about how we can help.