Unpaid Overtime Claims Extended From Two (2) to Three (3) Years

Before November of 2014, if you filed litigation alleging you were owed overtime compensation, the Court could only “look back” two years from the date you filed the lawsuit when awarding any potential recovery. The only overtime hours that “counted,” were the ones you worked within that most recent two year period.

The third year back, and the hours worked, were treated as if they never happened from a legal perspective (unless other allegations were made under the Federal law).

Thankfully, the Legislature just extended the statute of limitations period to three (3) years for overtime claims. You can read the legalese here, or just take our word for it.

So What?

The significance is, those individuals who are owed overtime going back three years don’t have to sacrifice that third year – their potential claims become much more valuable, and worth pursuing.  If you have unpaid overtime in Massachusetts, we want to hear from you.  If you were misclassified as an independent contractor, and have unpaid wages or unpaid overtime – we want to hear from you.

Unpaid Wages for “Off-the-clock” Work in Massachusetts

Short Answer:Generally, you must be paid/compensated for every hour that you’re actually working for your employer. When an employer fails to pay you for every hour, by doing any of the following: deleting hours, forcing you to work after punching out, forcing you to work through lunch breaks, or requiring you to punch out even though your job duties necessitate more work that day – you are entitled to three times the unpaid wages plus a reasonable attorney’s fee award.

Long Answer:Blatant violations of the Wage Act occur when your employer fails to pay you for time that’s clearly working time. For example, if your employer explicitly decides to pay you for 40-hours per week, regardless of your actual time spent working in excess of 40 hours, and not a dollar more, that payment policy would be a Wage Act violation. You cannot lawfully be terminated for having an attorney send a demand letter to your employer, or even for filing litigation to recoup the unpaid wages.

If you are experiencing any of the following, please contact our office for a free initial consultation:

  • you are required to perform certain tasks prior to punching in, such as loading a truck, collecting equipment, preparing supplies, etc…
  • you are required to perform certain tasks after punching out, such as finishing up paperwork, cleaning the job site, unloading supplies, etc…
  • you are forced to work through lunch or other meal breaks
  • your employer does not accurately track your hours worked, or has no system for tracking actual hours worked
  • your […]

Attorney Michael Bace Selected as 2014 SuperLawyers “Rising Star”

Attorney Michael Bace has been selected to the 2014 SuperLawyers “Rising Stars” list.  Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Massachusetts are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers as a Rising Star, particularly because our firm’s aggressive litigation style doesn’t exactly lend itself to making close friends of opposing counsel,” said Attorney Michael Bace.  “Even in that adversarial environment, our firm is being recognized as worthy of a Rising Stars vote, and I’m proud of, humbled by, and thankful for the endorsement.”

Super Lawyers, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multi-phase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law.

Restaurant Worker Files Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit Against Demos Restaurant

BOSTON MA (April 9, 2014) – Restaurant Worker Files Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit Against Demos Restaurant

A putative collective action was filed in Massachusetts Federal Court against Delegas Brothers, Inc., the owner and operator of “Demos Restaurant” with locations in Waltham and Watertown.

The suit, brought by a former Demos Restaurant employee Rafael Brooks, alleges that the ownership refused to pay overtime in violation of federal law. The litigation also alleges that the failure to furnish overtime is a pattern and company policy that is common to all of the approximately 10 Demos employees, who are all allegedly similarly situated to the single named Plaintiff.

The suit alleges that from 1996 until October 2013, Brooks worked at Demos Restaurant six days a week for ten hours a day. He performed many services for Demos during that time, including cooking, waiting tables, busing tables, preparing food, cleaning, and as a general laborer.

“We allege in the litigation that our client worked nearly sixty (60) hours every week, but was denied pay at an overtime rate of one and one half times his regular rate,” said co-counsel for the Plaintiff, Michael J. Bace, Esq. of Bace Law Group, LLC (www.bacelaw.com). “We also allege that the restaurant’s ownership has a policy of not paying workers their overtime pay that is common to all their employees.”

According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Massachusetts Wage Act, the litigation alleges that Brooks is entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and one half times his regular hourly rate for each hour […]

Commissions: When Are They “Due and Payable”?

In a recent trial Court decision, Hon. J. Woodlock has grappled with an issue this office is finding more and more common.  A sale is made, a commission is “earned,” it’s calculable and definite, but the employer places within the compensation plan a contingency, a technicality that must be met before the commission is payable.  The Wage Act, arguably, does not give employers unlimited discretion to dictate when commissions are earned and payable — in fact, one could argue that the Wage Act limits that discretion in a meaningful way.  See, http://bacelaw.com/blog/?p=88.

If the compensation plan includes contingencies prior to the earning of a commission, then those terms will likely be given deference by the Court

If the compensation plan attempts to modify the Wage Act, then those terms are likely unenforceable.

Drawing the line between the Wage Act and the creative terms employers place in sales contracts is no easy task.  Here is the language from Hon. J. Woodlock’s recent ruling:

Commissions are due and payable when “any contingencies relating to their entitlement have occurred.” Sterling Research, Inc. v. Pietrobono, No. 02-40150, 2005 WL 3116758, at *11 (D. Mass. Nov. 21, 2005); Micciche v. N.R.I. Data & Bus. Prod., Inc., No. 09-11661, 2011 WL 4479849, at *6 (D. Mass. Sept. 27, 2011).
The Annuities Regional Coordinator Sales Compensation Plan does not specify precisely what contingencies must be satisfied to entitle McAleer to commission payments. It says only that “[a] percentage of variable annuities gross sales will be awarded monthly based on cumulative gross sales results.” The Complaint alleges that Prudential […]