I’ve been paid late every pay period for six months. Not a day or two, but days or weeks late. We rent an apartment in Natick, and because of getting paid late, I’ve paid our rent late, sometimes with late fees and once we had to pay a $600 fee to avoid eviction. What
are my rights? Is the company liable for any late fees we incur because they don’t pay us?
Your situation presents substantive legal issues that are complicated by practical realities. Though it’s true that employers are required to pay workers their wages without delays like these, forcing them to do so through a legal action takes time and can be very costly.
Massachusetts law on employee wage payments is clear and well-established. Under what is called the state’s Wage Act, employers must pay earned wages to their employees within specified time limits, normally weekly. Wages include a worker’s earned pay, whether calculated by salary, hours worked, or otherwise. Wages also include commissions when they are definitely determined and due. Employers who fail to comply with the Wage Act face stiff penalties that include triple damages for improperly withheld pay and reimbursement of any costs or legal fees a worker incurs enforcing his/her rights. Employees can bring claims for unpaid wages in court, but must first file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
In your case, wages are being paid, albeit late. You should probably take one of two actions. First may be to talk to your employer to explain the difficulties you are expieriencing and, hopefully, obtain assurances that future wages will be paid on time. Second is to file an attorney general complaint for unpaid wages. That would/could involve only the wages due but unpaid at the particular point at which the complaint is filed. This second option could have the effect of snapping your employer to attention. Remember that, though either of these suggested actions might raise concerns that your employer will retaliate for your complaints, the Wage Act also includes anti-retaliation provisions that provide, in effect, that you cannot be punished for complaining about the law’s violation.
Natick Employment Law Attorney, Jack Merrill, provides legal representation to employees, employers and businesses throughout the Boston metro west and Worcester County region including Ashland, Dedham, Framingham, Franklin, Hopkinton, Maynard, Marlborough, Milford, Natick, Needham, Newton, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sudbury, Waltham, and Worcester, Massachusetts.