The Wage Act
The Wage Act is one of the most significant statutes that protects the rights of employees (whether labelled an “independent contractor” or not). It requires employers to pay wages on time, pay overtime where applicable, and contains serious remedies where there are violations — namely, potential triple damages and an award of attorney’s fees. Because the remedies are so strict, there is also a short statute of limitations, or window of opportunity, during which you must bring your cause of action; delay will negatively impact your rights. So, call now for a FREE consultation with an Attorney who can evaluate your situation.
If you work more than forty (40) hours in any given week, you must be paid one and one half times your regular rate for every hour in excess of forty hours. Believe it or not, this rule applies whether you are paid on a per-job or piecework basis, and applies even if your employer attempts to call you an “independent contractor.” You may be entitled to overtime when adding on-call, waiting, or other off the clock time. If you drive a truck and are paid per gallon delivered, you may be entitled to overtime pay.
The 1099 Form
Many employers attempt to incorrectly classify workers as “independent contractors” in order to avoid the important safeguards of the Wage Act, and avoid paying unpaid overtime and wages. However, it is extremely difficult to be classified as an independent contractor here in Massachusetts. Even if you agree, in writing, to the label “independent contractor,” you still may be an employee in the eyes of the law, and may be entitled to unpaid overtime. Generally, you must (1) operate your own independent business, (2) be free from the employer’s control and direction, AND, (3) be engaged in work that is outside the scope of the employer’s usual business in order to be an actual independent contractor.
Wages are defined broadly under the act, and recent case law suggests you may be entitled to the value of benefits, wages, commissions, unreimbursed expenses, etc…
Under certain circumstances, our Massachusetts litigation attorneys can pursue your interests on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no legal fees unless there is a successful recovery. Obviously, this does not apply to every claim, and is only available where both our firm and the client are willing to enter into such an agreement.