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By Louise Herman

Employers sometimes misclassify their employees in an attempt to avoid paying them what they are owed. Unfortunately, this practice is quite common, and it leaves employees overworked and underpaid. If you believe that your employer has withheld payments from you, you should contact an experienced employment law attorney for assistance. In this article, we discuss what you should know about your right to overtime wages as an employee. 

What is Employee Misclassification? 

Misclassification is a tactic that employers sometimes use to avoid paying their employees overtime wages. This practice involves misclassifying those who qualify as employees as independent contractors. The reason some employers do this is that independent contractors are entitled to fewer rights and protections than employees, including the right to be paid overtime. 

The Rights of Employees to Overtime Wages

Employees in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts are protected under state and federal laws. These laws are designed to ensure that employees are provided with fair compensation for the work they perform. On the state side, both the Rhode Island Minimum Wage Act and the Massachusetts Minimum Wage law establish the minimum hourly wage required to be paid to employees. These laws specifically require that employers pay their employees overtime at a rate of one and a half times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked beyond 40 hours. 

In addition, these laws require employers to pay employees regularly (at least bi-weekly) and provide specific guidelines on when and how employers must pay their employees upon termination. 

Employees whose wages are unlawfully withheld have the right to file a claim with their state’s applicable government entity or pursue legal action to recover unpaid wages.

What to Do If Your Employer Has Withheld Your Wages

If your employer has misclassified you and unlawfully withheld your overtime wages, you must take prompt action. Below is an overview of the steps to take if your employer has withheld your wages.

Compile documentation: First, you should gather relevant documentation, including pay stubs, employment contracts, time sheets, and any communication between you and your employer regarding your pay. 

Discuss with your employer: Next, you should discuss the missing pay with your employer. Sometimes, withheld wages are a result of a mistake by the employer, and having a discussion will resolve the issue. 

File a complaint: If you can’t resolve the issue by discussing it with your employer, you should consider filing a complaint with the applicable state agency. 

Contact an attorney: Finally, it is recommended that you contact an experienced unpaid wages attorney if you are unable to resolve your situation. In fact, contacting an attorney early in the process can help ensure that you quickly obtain the compensation you are owed.

Contact Our Experienced Unpaid Wages Attorney in Rhode Island

If your employer has unlawfully withheld wages from you, you should contact an experienced unpaid wages attorney as soon as possible. At Herman Law Group, our knowledgeable Rhode Island lawyer will fight for your right for fair compensation. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our talented unpaid wages attorneys. 

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

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.