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Massachusetts Overtime Law: Get Your Claim Filed

Are you working over forty hours a week and cashing your paycheck each week wondering if you have a claim against your employer for a violation of the overtime laws? Based on a ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Firth v. TD Bank, N.A. you should file a claim to preserve your rights or your claim may be time barred by the statute of limitations.

In Firth v. TD Bank, N.A., the Plaintiff Firth claimed that TD Bank violated Massachusetts' Overtime Law and Wage Act by failing to pay him time-and-a-half for each hour he worked over forty hours per week. Firth was an employee at TD Bank from 2008 until 2010 when he was terminated. During his employment, Firth was classified as an assistant branch manager and as being exempt from overtime. In fact, the Employee Handbook stated specifically that Assistant Store Managers were salaried employees ineligible for overtime pay.

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations to file a claim for an Overtime or Wage Act violation is two years. Firth did not file his civil action against TD Bank until three years after he was terminated. TD Bank moved for summary judgment arguing that Firth's claims were time barred by the statute of limitations. Firth argued that the discovery rule applied and that it was not until April 2012 that he discovered that TD Bank misclassified his position and that he should have been eligible for overtime.

The Court disagreed with Firth and ruled in favor of TD Bank holding:

The discovery rule does not, however, protect the obtuse or the indolent. ... Here there is no plausible claim that TD Bank concealed its classification of Firth as an exempt employee. Both iterations of the Employee Handbook issued to Firth specifically stated that Assistant Store Managers were salaried employees ineligible for overtime pay. Firth certainly knew when he cashed his weekly paycheck that he was being paid the same salary regardless of the number of hours that he had worked.

The Firth case is a reminder to employees everywhere that if you have an intuition that your employer is violating overtime laws then the statute of limitations time period is running and you have only two years to file a claim.

For employers, the Firth case is a reminder to review your employee classifications and confirm the accuracy of your exempt employees from overtime laws. Both Federal and Massachusetts laws govern what employees are exempt from overtime laws. The law presumes that an employee is covered by the overtime laws. The employer has the burden of proving that the employee is exempt from either Federal or Massachusetts overtime laws. Exemptions under Federal law include the: (1) executive exemption; (2) professional exemption (i.e. learned professionals & creative professionals); (3) outside sales exemption; (4) highly compensated employees (salary of $100,000 or more), and; (5) motor carrier exemption.

Massachusetts law expands these exemptions under G.L. c. 151 ยง 1A to include: (1) employees of hospitals, sanatoriums, convalescent or nursing homes, rest homes, or charitable homes for the aged; (2) employees of hotels, motels, restaurants, gas stations, and garages; (3) employees of nonprofit schools; (4) employees who are golf caddies, newspaper delivery persons, or child actors or performers; (5) employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments, and (6) janitors or caretakers of residential property who are furnished with living quarters.

It is important for employers to properly classify employees because a claimant employee is entitled to damages including the overtime he or she was denied; an equal amount in liquidated damages under Federal law; damages of three times the actual damages under Massachusetts law; reasonable attorney's fees; costs, and; prejudgment interest.

If you are an employer or employee and you have questions about Federal and Massachusetts overtime lawscontact Attorney Mucci today.

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