Understanding a Variety of Massachusetts Laws that Regulate Wages is Essential
for Employers, who Face Steep Penalties for even Unintentional Violations
By Jack K. Merrill, Esq.
One employer managed to turn $60,000 in wages it owed into a $500,000 judgment. Another paid $130,000 to avoid the much bigger risk it faced from a $40,000 claim. A third paid $950,000 to settle a class action suit that threatened to put it out of business entirely.
What links these employers is a misunderstanding of state law. None fully appreciated the expo-sure they faced under the Massa-chusetts Wage Act, and each care-lessly ignored its terms. Whether the error is failing to pay for all hours of work to the fraction, misclassifying workers as contractors, or withhold-ing earned wages, the result is the same – employers who break the law face triple damages, 12% in-terest, and attorneys’ fees for both their own lawyers and those em-ployed by their opponents.
A threat of suit under the Wage Act is a powerful weapon in the hands of a capable employee’s attorney. All he or she needs to bring tremendous and dispropor-tionate pressure to bear on an em-ployer is a viable claim for wages owed. Those who don’t buckle face huge damages risks. They are often forced to pay far more than they might owe to their workers in order to avoid the catastrophe that awaits if they opt to fight what proves to be a losing battle. [Read more…]