According to federal and state laws, hourly employees in Massachusetts who work for more than 40 hours per week must be paid overtime equal to one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay. If an employer is required to pay overtime and fails to do so, the worker who is deprived of funds can pursue a claim against the employer for unpaid wages.
An experienced Boston employment lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can help workers whose employers have not paid out wages and overtime as required by law. Call today to schedule a free consultation and to protect your rights as a worker.Unpaid Overtime and Exempt Employees
While both federal and state law require hourly workers to be paid overtime for hours over 40-per-week, not every employee must be paid overtime. There are many exemptions for workers who are not legally guaranteed this additional pay for extra hours worked. Unfortunately, many employers will try to use exemptions to avoid their overtime obligations. Misclassification of an employee as an exempt employee is one of the most common reasons for unpaid overtime.
To ensure that you are getting the overtime funds you deserve, it is important to understand the rules for who may be considered exempt. Under the Massachusetts Overtime Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act:
- A bona fide executive or professional is exempt from overtime requirements.
- Bona fide administrative personnel are exempt from overtime requirements but must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week and their primary duties must include performing non-manual or office work related to customer service or general business operations.
- Computer and/or creative professionals under certain circumstances.
- Outside salespeople.
- Seasonal farm workers or fisherman.
- Certain commercial truck drivers.
In general, one of the most important factors in determining if someone is exempt from overtime requirements is whether the employee is able to exercise discretion and independent judgment on matters of some significance.
A manager who makes decisions on company operations, for example, has much more discretion than a worker behind a cash register who follows strict company policies. The manager could be considered exempt, but if the employer tried to classify the cash-register worker as exempt to avoid paying overtime, this could be a violation of labor laws.Taking Legal Action for Unpaid Overtime
If you have been incorrectly classified as exempt or if you otherwise believe your employer is refusing to pay you overtime benefits in violation of labor laws, it is important to take action. The statute of limitations for unpaid overtime claims is two years and the law prohibits your employer from retaliating against you as a result of a lawsuit or complaint made related to unpaid overtime. You can make a complaint to the Fair Labor Division of the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and/or may file a civil lawsuit to recover the money you should have been paid as well as additional damages.