Unpaid Wages

The Massachusetts Wage Act requires that an employee or independent contractor who earns wages including salary or commissions must be paid in full for all wages due and owing to her within 7 days they were earned, or immediately upon termination, G.L. c. 149, § 148. The courts of the Commonwealth have steadfastly held that the purpose of the Wage Act is the timely payment of wages. See Boston Police Patrolmen’s Ass’n, Inc. v. City of Boston, 435 Mass. 718, 720 (2002).  Therefore, late payment of wages already due and owing is not a defense to the original failure to pay the wages on a timely basis.  In fact the Court courts have held, “Late payment is not among those defenses” allowed by the statute Dobin v. CIOview Corp., 16 Mass. L. Rep. 785, *6-*7 (Mass. Super. 2003) (Gants, J.).

The Attorney General’s Advisory 99/1 states, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court concurred, that “[u]pon separation from employment, employees must be compensated by their employers for vacation time earned.  Furthermore, the statute [G.L. 149 § 148] requires such an employee to be paid for unused vacation time remaining at the time of involuntary discharge.   Moreover, the failure to pay unpaid wages, as defined by G. L. c. 149 § 148, cannot be mitigated by gratuitous, after-the-fact payments, and that employees who have not received payment for unused vacation time to which they are entitled may seek relief pursuant to G. L. c. 149, § 150.   More specifically, no provision of the statute allows an employer, after terminating an employee with or without cause, to claim that later payments, in the form of salary and other benefits, compensate for earned and unused vacation time.

It is settled Massachusetts law that the Wage Act imposes strict liability on employers.  Employers must suffer the consequences of violating the Wage Act regardless of intent.

If you have not received the pay you are owed including vacation time, you are now entitled to 3 times those wages and your attorney fees. For More information or to schedule a free 30 minute consultation contact the Law Office of Goldstein and Clegg, LLC at 781 595 3800 or fill in the email form below: