Standing Tall Between Your Future And The Judge’s Gavel

Low-wage industries: Fertile ground for wage violations and worse

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | Civil Rights, Employment Law |

It’s difficult enough to make ends meet on low wages. Sadly, dire financial straits are often made worse by work environments where wage violations take place.

In Massachusetts, there are some 16,000 food and beverage establishments. It’s a vibrant industry, heavily reliant on its in-the-back workforce.

Other industries with a vulnerable labor force include new car dealers, convenience stores, janitorial services, temporary help services, hotels and motels, car washes, vocational rehabilitation services and tile and terrazzo contractors.

Fair Labor Standards Act

Under the Federal Labor Standards Act, all workers are entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In Massachusetts, however, the minimum wage as of Jan. 1 of this year is $15.00 per hour.

The overtime rate for any hours worked over 40 hours within a 7-day consecutive period should not be less than 1.5X the regular pay rate. Further, the employer is required to do accurate recordkeeping of employees’ hours worked and pay received.

Undocumented workers

These wage laws apply to all workers, immigration status notwithstanding. The Massachusetts Attorney General wants all valid complaints and will not share any information with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline number is (617) 727-3465 and workers dealing with these issues are urged to call.

There are many horror stories about things that go on in Massachusetts workplaces. Some of the worst cases include forced labor, debt bondage, labor trafficking and human smuggling. In some cases, these problems exist alongside simple issues such as wage violations. Worker advocates argue that if these lesser crimes were more regularly contested and the laws more commonly enforced, fewer of the more egregious crimes would happen

Remedies are available for those with the courage to push back. If you have been on the receiving end of wage violations, a consultation with experienced counsel may prove very helpful.