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What do I do? Massachusetts

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  • What do I do? Massachusetts

    I was hired by a trucking company in August of 06 with the understanding that I was starting at $13 but that would be reviewed in the future.
    Since then my work load has doubled and there has been no discussion of raising my pay.
    I have been forced to work overtime and they have refused to pay me time and a half for the hours that I have worked. This so far has only amounted to 2 hours and 50 minutes but I know that in MA it is illegal. Can I refuse to work more than 40 hours if he doesnt pay me correctly without being fired?
    I have asked to have time to discuss my issues with the owner and he keeps telling me that he doesnt have time or its not a good time.
    On top of this when the office manager gets in "a mood" she screams at me and speaks to me in a very demeaning tone and when I confronted her with her behavior she tells me "deal with it"
    I cant afford to just quit, though I have been looking for another job since this all started 2 months ago. If I quit under these circumstances, am I elligible for unemployment while I look for another job?
    What are some of your opinions on how I should handle the situation

  • #2
    Originally posted by pyrplgyrl View Post
    Can I refuse to work more than 40 hours if he doesnt pay me correctly without being fired?
    If you don't work the hours the employer wants you to work, he can fire you. Heck, he could fire you even if you work the hours and have done nothing wrong.

    The question should be would you get unemployment if you refused to work without being paid correctly.

    At $13/hr, you make enough in a 40 hour work week to qualify as exempt, but you gave no indication of whether you are exempt or not nor did you state what you do which might help figure that out.

    If you are classified as exempt, you get paid a salary of at least $455 a week. You are NOT entitled to any overtime pay (so, you could work 80 hours and get the same amount that you made working 40 hours).

    So, is the employer paying you as an exempt employee? If so, is the classification legitimate?

    If you are being paid as a non-exempt, hourly employee and not getting overtime, contact the State AG Office. Ditto if you are being paid as exempt, but you SHOULD be non-exempt.
    Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

    Comment


    • #3
      what do I do

      I am not an exempt employee. It is strictly hourly. I am the Dispatch Admin Asst.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by pyrplgyrl View Post
        I am not an exempt employee. It is strictly hourly. I am the Dispatch Admin Asst.
        Contact the Mass AG.http://www.ago.state.ma.us/sp.cfm?pageid=1129
        Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          One more thing: If your employer fires you for complaining about not being paid properly, that is unlawful retaliation and you can sue him for back and front wages. We've had a couple significant cases on this issue recently in MA. It is akin to what everyone calls whistleblowing.
          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yes, but under very limited circumstances, like terminating an employee for organizing activities or egregious cases of discrimination or harassment. And don't overlook violations of Federal laws, because some of them provide for punitive damages, too.
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              The problem is that your employer is incorrectly applying Section 13(b)(1) of the FLSA. There are SOME TRUCKING EMPLOYEES that are EXEMPT, but I would not classify you as exempt in this manner.

              You can ask for your OT. If they refuse, you may file a complaint with the Department of Labor. If they fire you, that's retaliation.

              If you quit now, you will not likely collect unemployment. JMHO.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, Joe....but you can't collect the 'BIG BUCKS' so to speak without the elements of refusal and retaliation.

                The employee can't get ANYTHING, including her earned OT premium, without first asking.

                Comment


                • #9
                  One point to add to this discussion which may help in figuring out the poster's best strategy: you don't need to make an external report for retaliation to attach in connection with violations of the MA Wage Act. An employee's internal complaint to the boss about non-payment of owed wages is sufficient. If she's fired after that, and its because of her complaint, that's a retaliatory termination. This is one of the critical local differences from other whistleblowing type cases.

                  As you can imagine, a number of very good public policy reasons support interpreting the law protecting employees in this manner. Of course, its a very limited ruling, but it means that employees don't have to go to running to the AG or the courts first in order to protect themselves everytime they have a problem with wages.

                  As to whether she should ask her employer before filing a claim, it seems to me that it's almost always better to ask first for many of the reasons discussed. Of course, if she's already asked and they still won't pay, then clearly she's got some more decisions ahead of her.


                  .
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the help

                    Guess I started quite the discussion ha?

                    Thanks for all of the great advice.

                    Here's an update.

                    The person I was originally hired to assist; the dispatcher; has been out for 2 months with a broken back. This is how this whole issue of me working more hours came about.

                    Also when I started there it was with the understanding that as the business grew so would my responsibilities and rate of pay. GOT MORE WORK DIDNT GET MORE MONEY.

                    Well the dispatcher came back today and I made him sit down with me and hear my grievances. He is the only one there that would take the time to listen to me and he is my immediate supervisor so I was trying to follow "chain of command" so to speak since the owner would not take 5 minutes to talk with me while he was out and the office manager is a screaming maniac most days so I just stay out of her way as much as possible.

                    I did not bring up the overtime thing yet; (saving that for later) but I did request a $2 raise in pay which is still $3 below industry average for the area for the position as I found out from salary.com and monster.com and I printed out the statistics to back up my request. And those figures are for a company that would offer benefits; I am offer NONE at all.

                    I told him the climate of the company and circumstance that I was left to deal with had forced me to start looking elsewhere for employment and that I really need some reassurance from this company that I should stay by them giving me the raise. He said to give him a couple of days and he would get back to me.

                    My plan going forward to wait till Thursday at the latest for a response. If none is given by then, I will go to him again. If I am refused, then I plan to make it clear that I have been document all of the illegal activity that goes on at the company; meaning the owed pay to me and the hostile enviroment that the office manager as forced me, in her own words "to deal with it" and see what the response is then.

                    If I get fired I will file suit.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You should not WARN them

                      This takes on the aspect of THREATENING and you could be legally fired if you word your statements inappropriately. Wait till Friday, then file your grievance in writing to your supervisor, THEN file a law suit or whatever for what you believe you are entitled. Did you SIGN an employment contratact or agreement of any kind?
                      What is veiwed is not always what is seen and
                      what is heard is not always what is spoken!
                      ~M. Noitall~

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        threatening

                        No. No contract. No agreement. Nothing in writting.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Word of warning. Asking for a raise is not protected activity so if you are fired for demanding more money, it is legal. Also, the salaries on salary.com especially are much higher than I've found to be the case in every instance I've checked out. I'm not entirely sure where they get their data, but I've yet to find it to be accurate. I've also found that their standard disclaimer is that the figures include benefits whether benefits are typically offered for that position elsewhere or not. In other words, I wouldn't get in an uproar based on what you found online there.

                          I also would not attempt to use blackmail to get what you want. Threatening to turn them in or file a claim if they do not agree to pay you more is blackmail, quite illegal and a valid and legal reason to terminate you. If there is a problem with you not getting the 3 hours of OT, bring it up to your supervisor. It may just have been an oversight given that this person was out for 2 months. Have you even mentioned to anyone like perhaps payroll, that you did not get paid for the OT you worked?

                          Unless the reason you are being screamed at or treated poorly is because of a legally protected characteristic, it isn't a hostile work environment as the law defines it. If this manager is unpleasant to everyone, it isn't illegal.
                          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            threatening

                            The day I got my third check with the hours marked regular over 40 I went right to the payroll-office manager and asked "do you pay time and a half for hours over 40?'" and she sharply replied "NO"

                            As far as threatening goes, I dont plan to use it as a bargaining tool. It will be my last statement to them as I walk out the door.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              threatening

                              After I got my 3rd paycheck with hours listed over 40 as regular I went to the office manager and asked "dont you pay time and a half for hours over 40?" and she sharply replied "NO"

                              I dont plan to threaten them with the issues It will be my last statement on my way out the door. not a bargaining tool.

                              Comment

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