Wage violation occurs when an employer denies wages or benefits that an employee should rightfully receive. There are many ways it can happen; sometimes, it's obvious, but other times, it's so discreet you may not even realize it. You may be a victim of wage violation if your employer is:

1. Paying below minimum wage

In Worcester, MA, the state minimum wage is $11 per hour as of January 1, 2017. That's above $7.25, the federal minimum wage per hour. Thus, anything below $11 in MA is an automatic violation, though employers may try to get away with paying only $7.25 and say “It’s the law.” But that’s only half of the story. The law does say the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but it also says employers should pay the higher rate between the state minimum wage and federal minimum wage. Otherwise, said employers are committing wage violation in Worcester.

2. Failing to give overtime pay

Most employees are entitled to receive overtime pay if they rendered more than 40 hours of service in a workweek. But there are exceptions. Usually, so-called white-collar employees who perform managerial or professional work are not entitled to overtime pay, which is why they’re called exempt employees. They have high fixed salaries that are not affected by the number of hours rendered. Note that this is a rather narrow category, so employers should be able to justify putting employees under it. Otherwise, employees are entitled to overtime pay, which is why they’re called non-exempt employees.

The good news is that it’s easy to spot discrepancy on the pay stub, especially when you’re expecting a certain amount and end up receiving a smaller one. The bad news is that some employers have become adept at making the process for getting overtime pay complicated enough to confuse employees. Obstacles such as requiring multiple pre-approvals for overtime work from managers/supervisors, setting a strict deadline for filing overtime work, and putting up limitations on what kind of work qualifies as overtime work all make it challenging for employees to figure out what they’re entitled to or not.

3. Making employees use unpaid time for work

In MA, employees are entitled to half an hour of unpaid meal break for a shift that’s at least six hours long. But sometimes, employers ask employees to work through this break (working lunch, lunch meetings, etc.) or cut this break short by a few minutes. Even if employees don’t clock out later than the official end of their shift, employers are still committing wage violation when they ask employees to use their unpaid time for work that’s supposedly paid.

4. Misclassifying non-exempt employees as exempt

As mentioned, there are two kinds of employees, exempt and non-exempt. Some employers try to pass off employees as managers. But in reality, these employees are still getting small pay (as opposed to the high pay real exempt employees receive), and performing tasks that are not really managerial in nature.

5. Labeling employees as independent contractors

Some employers go beyond misclassifying employees by not hiring employees at all. Instead, they hire independent contractors. By doing this, employers can get away with not providing benefits which employees are entitled to get, such Social Security, Medicare, and paid leave. It shouldn’t be a problem if the people hired are treated as independent contractors. They don’t have benefits because in exchange, they have a lot of freedom with their schedule. However, if the relationship between you and the one you’re working more of an employer-employee type and less of a client-contractor type, then you’re being short-changed.

Do you think you are a victim of wage violation? Consult a lawyer in MA and find out if you can make a claim.


Published by Addie Davison