Serving Clients in Rhode Island & Massachusetts

If you’re encountering issues with unpaid wages, you’re not alone. Many workers find themselves in situations where they’re not compensated for overtime, bonuses, and commission or even at the minimum wage rate. Federal and state wage laws offer protection against wage theft, providing a pathway for workers to claim their rightful earnings. Understanding these laws can be a vital step in addressing unpaid wages and securing the compensation due.

Understanding Unpaid Wages

Unpaid wages encompass a variety of scenarios where employees do not receive the compensation they are legally entitled to. This includes not being paid for overtime, missing out on bonuses and commissions, working “off the clock”, or being paid less than the minimum wage. Workers need to recognize these instances as they directly impact financial stability and rights in the workplace. Employees should carefully track their hours worked, pay received, and any agreements made with employers to ensure they are fully compensated for their labor.

Common Types of Unpaid Wages

  • Unpaid Overtime: Employees who work beyond their regular hours are often entitled to overtime pay, typically one and a half times their regular rate. However, some may find that these extra hours are not reflected in their paychecks. It’s important to understand the eligibility criteria for overtime pay, as it varies by job type and state law.
  • Missed Minimum Wage Payments: The law mandates a minimum hourly wage for workers. Instances where employees receive less than this minimum amount are clear violations. Regularly checking your pay stubs against state and federal minimum wage laws can help identify any discrepancies.
  • Withheld Bonuses and Commissions: Bonuses and commissions agreed upon in employment contracts but not paid out constitute another form of unpaid wages. Employees should keep detailed records of their sales, targets, and any correspondence related to bonus schemes to support their claims.
  • Uncompensated Work Hours: Some workers may be asked to perform tasks before clocking in or after clocking out, leading to hours worked without compensation. Documenting all time spent on work-related activities, including seemingly minor tasks, is essential for ensuring fair payment.
  • Employee Misclassification: Misclassifying employees as independent contractors is a tactic some employers use to avoid paying overtime, benefits, and minimum wage. This classification affects your rights to certain protections and benefits under labor laws. If you suspect you’ve been misclassified, it’s important to review the nature of your work, your role within the company, and the level of control your employer has over your work to determine if you might be an employee.

Your Rights Under Rhode Island and Massachusetts Wage Laws

In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, employees are protected under state and federal laws designed to ensure fair compensation for their labor. The Rhode Island Minimum Wage Act and Massachusetts Minimum Wage statute set forth the minimum hourly wage, which is regularly updated to reflect economic changes. Moreover, the state Wage and Hour laws mandate overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times the regular pay for hours worked beyond a standard 40-hour workweek. In addition, Rhode Island’s Payment of Wages Act and Massachusetts Wage Act requires employers to pay employees regularly, at least on a bi-weekly basis, and provides clear guidelines on the final paycheck upon termination. If your employer violates these provisions, you have the right to file a claim with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training or Massachusetts Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, or pursue legal action to recover unpaid wages, potentially including additional damages. 

How to Identify If You Have a Claim

Identifying whether you have a claim for unpaid wages involves a careful assessment of your work situation against federal and state labor laws. Start by reviewing your employment agreement and any relevant policies to understand the terms of your compensation. Pay particular attention to the stipulations about your hourly wage, salary, overtime eligibility, bonuses, and any other forms of compensation you’re entitled to. 

Next, track your hours worked, including overtime, and compare these records with your pay stubs to ensure all hours are accounted for and compensated correctly. Consider any discrepancies between your agreed-upon wage and what you’ve received, especially if your pay falls below the state’s minimum wage. Additionally, assess whether you’ve been classified correctly as an employee or an independent contractor, as misclassification can affect your eligibility for certain wages and benefits. If these preliminary steps reveal inconsistencies or violations of wage laws, it may be time to explore legal avenues to recover your unpaid wages.

Steps to Take If You Are Owed Unpaid Wages

If you believe you are owed unpaid wages, taking prompt and organized steps can help secure your rightful earnings. First, compile all relevant documentation, including time sheets, pay stubs, employment contracts, and any communication regarding your pay. This evidence is important for substantiating your claim. Next, approach your employer to discuss the discrepancy; sometimes, issues can be resolved through straightforward communication. If this doesn’t lead to a satisfactory resolution, consider filing a complaint with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, which can investigate wage violations. For situations that cannot be resolved internally or through state intervention, seeking legal advice from an employment law attorney might be necessary to guide you through the legal proceedings to recover your wages.

How We Can Help You Recover Unpaid Wages

Herman Law Group is dedicated to assisting employees in recovering unpaid wages. With a deep understanding of Rhode Island’s employment laws, we provide comprehensive legal support, from initial consultation to representation in court if necessary. We thoroughly evaluate your case, gather essential evidence, and develop a strategic approach tailored to your specific situation. Our firm negotiates with employers on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve, including back pay and any applicable damages. In cases where settlement is not possible, we are prepared to vigorously represent your interests in court. 

Contact Our Experienced Unpaid Wages Attorney

Don’t let unpaid wages undermine your hard work and financial stability. Contact Herman Law Group today for a partner in your corner, ready to fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve. Let’s secure your future together.

Herman Law Group is based in Providence but offers its services nationwide. We help clients throughout Rhode Island, including Bristol County, Kent County, Washington County, Providence County, Warwick, & Cranston. Additionally, the firm its extends expertise in Attleboro and across the rest of Massachusetts.