According to our firm, Cutler Law Boston, worker rights are well defined in Massachusetts because the Commonwealth takes worker protection very seriously. Under the law, employers must abide by particular standards when dealing with workers. Unfortunately, far too many employers fail to live up to these standards. Thousands of workers in Massachusetts and around the country are misinformed about their rights and as a result, are mistreated by their employers.
Far too often, workers are not even aware that they have rights that can be violated by employers. Massachusetts law provides for the recovery of attorney's fees and treble damages for workers who sue to enforce their rights. If you have a question about your rights or believe that your rights have been violated by an employer, contact us for a free consultation. Oftentimes, cases are taken on a contingency basis, meaning that you don't pay for our services unless we recover for you.
The following are some common situations in which employers violate worker rights:
Many workers are entitled to "time-and-a-half" overtime pay for each hour beyond 40 in a workweek. It is the law, not an employer, that determines whether or not a worker is entitled to overtime. Workers not entitled to overtime pay mainly fall into one of three categories: executive, administrative and professional.
Lunches and Breaks
Far too often, workers are denied lunch breaks or other respites from work even though Massachusetts law requires that employers give their workers 30 minutes off for every 6 hour shift. Workers who are denied breaks often work without compensation for this time and as a result suffer two violations of their rights: one for being denied a legally required break and another for working without pay.
Workers are entitled to compensation for time spent at work. Time spent at work does not simply mean time actively working. If an employer requires you to be physically present or controls what you are doing or where you can go, you are considered at work and must be paid for this time.
Misclassification as an Independent Contractor
Some employers attempt to save money by classifying and paying their employees as independent contractors. This is both wrong and illegal. The law requires employers to cover or share in some of the costs of employment, including paying payroll taxes, healthcare costs, worker's compensation premiums and other benefits. Employers who try to avoid these costs by paying their employees as independent contractors harm not only the worker but every taxpayer by depriving public insurance funds of due contributions and depriving the Commonwealth and the United States of payroll tax revenue. These employers also gain an unfair business advantage from the lower labor costs that result from misclassification.
Massachusetts takes seriously the misclassification of employees and provides for a private right of action for workers to recover against their employers. Workers who have been misclassified have often suffered other harm, including unpaid overtime and lost value of benefits such as vacation and sick leave. If you believe you were improperly classified as an independent contractor or have otherwise had your rights violated by your employer, feel free to contact us today.