Our client ran a successful small business performing in-home countertop installations. Without a hint of problems, he suddenly received a demand from one of his workers, who claimed through counsel that he’d been underpaid for overtime hours worked over the course of several years. Though he calculated that he was owed a relatively small sum, the employee tripled his damages to almost $50,000 under the Massachusetts Wage Act. The employer kept strong records and was able to demonstrate that he paid the employee – who continued to work for him – for all hours that he reported working. Because the employee frequently worked out of the office and the employer did not carefully track time spent on the road, however, the employee was able to claim that he actually worked more hours than the employer’s records reflected. The dispute presented difficult fact questions that promised to be time-consuming, expensive to litigate, and risky for the employer because the Wage Act makes employers automatic ally liable even when they make honest mistakes.
Result: We drafted a strong reply denying any wrongdoing and presenting legal reasons why the employee did not have a valid overtime claim. Following this, we were able to negotiate a favorable settlement that avoided the costs and uncertainties of litigation.