Under federal and state law, employees in Massachusetts are entitled to earn compensation for the time they spend at work. Despite this, wage and hour law violations flourish because unscrupulous employers skirt the laws and count on their employees to be none the wiser.
# Ways You Might Not Be Paid What You’re Owed
We at Davis & Davis, P.C. believe people should be paid what they are entitled to earn by law, which is why we’ve prepared a list of some of the most common ways employers violate wage and hour laws.
Take a few minutes to read through this list. If anything sounds familiar to your situation at work, reach out to an employment law attorney as soon as possible. Someone like one of our employment lawyers can have the experience and legal skills you need to pursue compensation.
1. Your Employer Isn’t Recording Overtime Hours
If your employer requires you to work more than 40 hours per week, you are entitled to 1.5 times your normal pay rate (time-and-a-half) for each hour beyond 40 that workweek (measured as 168 consecutive hours or seven consecutive 24-hour periods). Even if you work 5, 10, 15, or any more minutes beyond your 40th hour, you must be compensated for this time at 1.5 times your normal rate.
Employers think they can get more out of their employees for less by failing to record their overtime hours, but keeping your own record of the time you spent at work can help an employment lawyer fight for the compensation you’re owed.
2. Your Employer Isn’t Paying the Overtime Rate
The Fair Labor Standards Act makes it clear that employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to 1.5 times pay for each additional hour worked. Although you may be paid for overtime hours, always check your paystub to ensure that you are being paid the overtime rate – not your normal rate.
3. You Aren’t Paid for Travel during Work Hours
Employers are required to compensate employees when they travel during their work hours, particularly between job sites for job-related purposes.
For example, if a newspaper reporter is required to interview people around town for an article, their employer can’t dock their pay for the time it took to drive to each location. In addition to earning their standard pay rate during travel, employees are entitled to earn $0.56 per mile driven.
An important exception is commuting. Employees aren’t owed compensation for their commutes to and from work.
4. You Are Required to Pool Tips with Non-Service Staff
Tip pooling is legal in Massachusetts only when an employee is pooling their tips with other employees who earn tips. It would be illegal to compel an employee to share their tips with other staff members, management, or owners who do not earn tips.
5. You Earn a Salary but You Aren’t Exempt from Overtime Pay
Many people believe that earning a salary automatically means exemption from overtime laws. This isn’t the case in Massachusetts, where exemptions only apply to executives, administrators, and other professionals who earn a minimum salary of at least $684 per week. External salespersons are also exempted from overtime in Massachusetts, as are certain professionals who work with computers.
If the criteria above don’t describe your job, but your employer says you are exempt from earning overtime because you’re paid a salary, you should discuss this matter with an employment law attorney.
6. You Are Misclassified as an Independent Contractor
Sometimes a worker is misclassified as an independent contractor when they are, in fact, an employee. The difference is important because an independent contractor isn’t eligible to earn overtime, whereas an employee can be (as long as they don’t meet other overtime exemption requirements).
An independent contractor is someone who provides a business with services but isn’t considered an employee. Broadly speaking, independent contractors are considered to be in business for themselves.
You probably AREN’T an independent contractor if you DON’T meet the following criteria:
- You are free from the employer’s control and direction.
- Your services are outside of the company’s usual course of business.
- You are customarily engaged in an established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as the services you provide.
When You Should Seek Legal Help
If you believe your situation at work is similar to any of the scenarios described above, reach out to an employment law attorney as soon as possible. You can schedule a consultation with a Davis & Davis, P.C. lawyer to learn more about legal options that may be available to you and how we can help.
For more information, reach out to us online today!