It is illegal to fire a Massachusetts employee for trying to get paid their wages. The law says “No employee shall be penalized by an employer in any way as a result of any action on the part of an employee to seek his or her rights under the wages and hours provisions of this chapter.”
Your employer may still fire you or otherwise punish you for seeking your wages, but this would give rise to a retaliation lawsuit. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that even internal complaints to a boss or manager leading to your dismissal could form the basis of a retaliation claim.
Retaliation claims often result in large damage awards if the act of retaliation is close in time to the wage complaint or there are other indicators of retaliation.
The damages for unpaid wage retaliation can be significant because lost wages resulting from a retaliatory discharge can be recovered under Massachusetts law, and this recovery is trebled in a court judgment. Attorneys’ fees and costs will also be awarded. In addition to “back pay,” an employee who was the victim of unlawful retaliation can recover “front pay.” So, for example, when an employee is fired for complaining about unpaid wages, and he doesn’t find another job immediately or takes a job making less money, the wages that he lost out on after being fired can be recovered and tripled in a lawsuit. In appropriate cases, an employee can also recover for emotional distress damages.
If you think you might have an unpaid wage or overtime claim in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or call 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligaton consultation.