The Boston Globe is reporting that the United States Department of Labor has determined that 34 Massachusetts restaurants have violated wage and hour laws. The restaurants violated the minimum wage laws, failed to pay Massachusetts servers overtime and made illegal deductions from wages. Some restaurants even treated servers as independent contractors, rather than employees in order to avoid paying the minimum wage.
Federal labor laws provide protections for restaurant workers. Massachusetts also has wage and hour laws, including laws on meal breaks, tip sharing, minimum wage, independent contractors and other laws that protect waitstaff. A law passed in Massachusetts in 2008 provides that workers who win their wage cases are entitled to mandatory triple damages. As an example, a Massachusetts server who is owed $2,000 in unpaid wages, would be entitled to $6,000 if he or she can prove the case in court. The court may also award attorney’s fees and interest on a judgment.
Although the Labor Department and the Attorney General’s office are pursuing restaurants that underpay their servers, in certain circumstances waitstaff may have the right to bring their own claims and seek triple damages.
If you have any questions about the the wage laws in Massachusetts, please contact Boston labor and employment attorney Maura Greene at 617-936-1580 for a free consultation.