Massachusetts Wage Law

Massachusetts has very protective wage laws regulating the payment of earned wages and commissions to employees. Postponing employee compensation may seem like a viable business strategy, especially by new companies experiencing cash liquidity issues, but doing so violates the Wage Act, which provides that all employees must be paid at least the minimum wage on a regular basis.

The Massachusetts Payment of Wages Act provides that any employee discharged from employment must be paid his or her wages in full, including any accrued but unused vacation pay, on the date of discharge. Many employers are unaware of this provision or choose to ignore it, as it may be difficult to generate an accurate final paycheck on the employee’s last day of employment. Regardless, employers should make every effort to comply, and should not delay payment of a final paycheck for administrative reasons or until deductions for amounts possibly owed by the employee have been determined. Even when payments are delayed by only a few days, there is a technical violation of the Wage Act which may result in treble damages, an award of attorneys’ fees, and personal liability of corporate officers.

An employee claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of the wage laws may, 90 days after the filing of a complaint with the attorney general, or sooner if the attorney general assents in writing, and within 3 years after the violation, institute and prosecute in his own name and on his own behalf, or for himself and for others similarly situated, a civil action for injunctive relief, for any damages incurred, and for any lost wages and other benefits. An employee so aggrieved who prevails in such an action shall be awarded treble damages, as liquidated damages, for any lost wages and other benefits and shall also be awarded the costs of the litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

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