Employee Wage Lawyer and Overtime Lawyer

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP has developed expertise in employee wage and overtime litigation and has litigated numerous cases to successful conclusions in state and federal courts throughout the country. This field is often referred to as "wage and hour" litigation. Typically, these are class action cases that seek to recover unpaid overtime compensation, unpaid wages attributable to the employer's failure to accurately document and pay for all hours worked, or unpaid wages due to the employer’s improper misclassification of its workers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. The lawyers at Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP frequently serve on educational panels for other lawyers regarding developments in this area of the law, particularly in the class action or collective action context.

Successful Employee Wage and Overtime Cases

The firm has obtained significant settlements for our employee wage and overtime clients, including two settlements exceeding $15 million for artists and computer programmers working in the video game industry, another settlement against a different video game company for $8.5 million, a settlement of $7 million for truck drivers not paid the correct prevailing wage, and a $6.2 million settlement for automobile appraisers working for an insurance company. You can read more about our successful litigation in this area and more about our active cases.

Typical Employee Wage and Overtime Law Violations

Some common examples of wage and hour violations include:

  • an employer misclassifies an employee as "exempt" from the overtime laws and pays that person a fixed salary without additional compensation at time-and-one-half the hourly rate for each hour worked over forty hours in a workweek; only certain kinds of employees, typically those who do not exercise discretion and independent judgment over significant matters when performing their job duties
  • an employer does not pay the correct "prevailing wage" rate to an employee performing a particular  kind of work as required by a government entity
  • an employer requires that the employee perform work before or after the scheduled shift, such as preparing the tools or cleaning the work area, without compensating the employee for that time, or even just requiring the employee to arrive before the schedule shift and wait to punch in
  • an employer does not compensate an employee for time spent driving between a central office or reporting location and another location where work is performed (typically not a regular commute from home unless the employee works out of a home office)
  • an employer automatically deducts time for lunch and breaks even if the employee does not take time off for lunch or breaks
  • an employer wrongly classifies an employee as an "independent contractor" and does not pay overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek, even though the employer closely manages the work of the employee and provides the tools and equipment to do the job
  • an employer makes a wait staff employee share in a tip pool that includes managerial employees (the laws on this issue vary from state to state significantly)
  • an employer pays an employee on a "piece rate" basis, i.e. a certain amount for each task performed, but does not pay additional overtime compensation even though the employee works more than forty hours in a workweek

An Employee Can Sue Without Time Records

Because federal law and some state laws require the employer to keep accurate time and payroll records, employees are able to successfully prosecute these claims even if there is no written evidence of the exact number of hours worked. In fact, an employee's reasonable estimate is generally used by the courts to establish the number of hours worked unless the employer can demonstrate some flaw in the estimate.

Prevailing Wage Law

The firm is particularly interested in hearing from employees who believe their employer is not paying the correct prevailing wage rate of pay when working for a governmental entity.  You can read more about prevailing wage issues by clicking here or about Massachusetts prevailing wage issues by clicking here.


Misclassification: an employer classifies a worker as an “independent contractor” but treats the worker like an employee.  Whether a person is properly classified as an independent contractor or an employee is a matter of law. Employee status brings with it many important rights with respect to wages and benefits.  Similarly, true independent contractor status brings rights of independence and autonomy.  If an employer calls its workers “independent contractors” but still exercises substantial control over their work, the employer may have misclassified those workers and owes them compensation.

Additional Resources:

US Department of Labor - Wage & Labor Division

Massachusetts Attorney General - Wage & Hour

Massachusetts Office of Labor & Workforce Development

Massachusetts Prevailing Wage