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ma labor laws, does this sound right?

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  • ma labor laws, does this sound right?

    I work at a horse barn in eastern mass. I am the full time person here. I live on the property. I get out to work at 6am and stay in the barn until 12pm for an hour lunch then back out to the barn until 6pm. If there is something that needs to be done my employer wants me to work overtime until it is does and if it happens to cut into my lunch break she dosen't care. I am suppose to have 2 days off a week but she has not been able to find anyone. She has found someone who can work half a day, but she still wants me in the barn to guide him. Even if she is able to help him she still prefers me to. So, I pretty much don't have a day off. My paycheck includes my small 1 bedroom apartment, and 1 stall for a horse. I was told that I could get paid more if my horse was moved. I moved him and am still not getting compensated for it. I get $250 a week, I calculated it dividing it by the 5 days a week I am suppose to work it come out to $4.54 an hour. But if you calculate it with the 7 days that i am currently working it avarages out to $3.24 an hour. Atleast once a week the chiropractor come out for the horses and come out after the barn has been closed and I am done for the night. My employer has me come out and be in the barn while she is here. Which is sometimes 8 at night and she may stay anywhere from 1 to 2 hours! My employer also has another house and barn in vermont that she spends the summer up there. I went with her last year. She has a long list of things that need to be dome before going up there. She would have me out there doing those chores into the night sometimes not letting me end until 1am! Then getting up at 6 and starting all over. The full time person has to spend one year with this job before lease. I have told her that I do want to leave. Also once the year is up, I have to also give 3 months and 10 days notice so she can post ads in newspapers and such. Next month is suppose to be my last month, but no one has been interested in the job and wants me to stay longer. Can I have advice of what I should do? Is there someone that can contact my employer about her rules for her employees? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Without knowing much more about your situation, it appears that there are a couple of general issues here:

    1. Employees must be paid for every hour worked.
    2. Employees can not be paid less than minimum wage, currently $6.75 in MA.
    3. Non-exempt employees who work in excess of 40hrs per week are entitled to time-an-one-half for their labor. There are at least 2 exceptions that would need to be explored in this situation: the first, the MA caretaker exception for those furnished with living quarters who are paid a wage of not less than thirty dollars per week; the second, is the professional exception (both MA and Federal) where you would need to consider whether your skill would classify you as a “professional.” This might apply if you had some special degree in horse health or training.

    Its very good practice to keep careful notes of the hours worked, the amount of money you received (pay stubs would be good here), the amount of deductions the employer could claim for putting up and caring for your horse, whether or not you signed any documents, and all the people you worked with.

    If you can prove your claim for unpaid wages, then MA law will allow you to recover your wages and all attorney’s fees and costs of litigation. The law might also provide you three times your wages due. But you must file with the attorney general and with the court before the statute of limitations runs. The statute in MA only allows an employee to go back 3 years for unpaid wages (and Federal law in some cases only allows for 2 years).

    As for what to do, no attorney can give you advice online, but you may very well have a claim. If you do, you should be able to hire an attorney in MA on a straight contingency fee basis, which means basically that you don’t pay unless you recover.

    You are certainly welcome to contact me. Otherwise, you can find attorneys in the yellow pages or through the bar associations.

    Phil
    This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (www.gordonllp.com).

    This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.

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