Massachusetts Overtime Pay and Triple Damages

Most Massachusetts employees are entitled to overtime pay after working forty hours in a work week.  Under Massachusetts law,  all employees must be paid time and a half for any hours worked over forty hours in one week, unless the employee is exempt from the the overtime requirement.  There are certain professionals who,  depending upon their salary and job duties, may not be entitled to overtime pay.   If these employees meet the requirements of  an executive, administrative, professional, computer professional or outside sales employee exemption, they would not be entitled to overtime. There are other employees,  such as certain drivers or helpers on motor carriers who,  depending upon the circumstances, may not be entitled to overtime pay.

There are severe penalties for employers in Massachusetts who violate the overtime pay law.  First,  employees who haven’t been paid their overtime pay can seek “triple damages”  in courts.  As an example, an employee who proves that her company withheld $5,000 in overtime pay from her would be awarded $15,000,  and costs and attorney’s fees.   After the passage of a law in 2008,  judges are not allowed to consider whether or not whether the employer acted in good faith, but made a mistake.  No matter what the reason for the failure to pay overtime, if the employee proves the case, the employer must pay three times the amount that was owed.

There are other penalties for employers who violate the Massachsetts wage law and do not pay overtime.  An officer, agent or employee of the company can be held individually responsible for violating the law.  The law even provides for criminal penalties.

In summary,  the laws in Massachusetts are very protective of employees who are owed overtime pay.  Where an employee has not been paid overtime, that employee may have a claim for triple damages under the Massachusetts wage statute.  The law concerning which employees must be paid overtime and which employees are “exempt” from the overtime laws are complex, and we cannot give legal advice on individual cases in this blog.  If you have questions about the information here, please call labor and employment attorney,  Maura Greene at 617-936-1580.  In 2012, the Boston Globe named Maura Greene as one of Boston’s top-rated labor and employment lawyers.