Treble Damages and Attorney’s Fees

The Massachusetts Wage Act,  one of the most strict and Draconian in the country, has significant protections for employees — the violation of its provisions triggers non-discretionary treble damages plus an award of attorney’s fees.  It’s worth repeating:  if an employer violates the Wage Act, the employee is entitled three times (3x) her damages, plus an award of the reasonable attorney’s fees associated with having to press her rights.

Since 2008, it is no longer necessary to demonstrate that your employer willfully withheld wages and they cannot just claim that they made a mistake. A Court cannot decide to award treble or double damages in one matter, and single damages on another depending on the severity of the particular issue.  Since 2008, triple damages are non-discretionary, and mandatory, in the event of a violation.  According to MGL c. 148, s. 150 “the defendant shall not set up as a defence a payment of wages after the bringing of the complaint”.  Correcting the nonpayment, subsequent to the bringing of a Complaint, is not a defense and will generally not reduce the damages sought.

Under normal circumstances in our legal system, both sides, the plaintiff and defense pay their respective attorneys.  However, this office strives to find a way to handle wage act violations on a “contingent fee,” where possible  A contingency fee is simply an arrangement whereby your attorney covers the costs initially, and if you win the case they then receive a percentage of the award as compensation for the legal services.