The Massachusetts Fair Labor and Business Practices Division is the government agency that investigates labor law violations. It also handles complaints through its website or by telephone to the Fair Labor Hotline where workers can anonymously voice their issues. If the department decides that a violation has occurred, it will investigate further.
What the Fair Labor and Business Practices Division Does
The Massachusetts Attorney General's Fair Labor and Business Practices Division ensures the payment of wages owed to workers. It also ensures that businesses that are cutting costs at their employees' expense do not undercut companies complying with labor laws.
The Fair Labor and Business Practices Division requires businesses to follow child labor laws and other laws related to employment in the state. It accomplishes this through enforcement, partnerships and community education.
Documents for Filing Workplace Complaints
Individuals can file a workplace complaint through the Fair Labor Division's web portal. They should provide as much information as they can, including employee handbooks, pay stubs and records regarding their work-related complaint.
The individual filing the employee rights complaint should keep this information handy in the event that someone from the Fair Labor Division contacts them for further information. The worker can file the complaint without these documents, as they cannot attach documents to the online complaint. Workers can file their complaints anonymously.
Filing a Workplace Complaint in Massachusetts
When filing a workplace complaint, individuals should select the option that best applies to their issue from the About Your Request section of the agency's online form. For example, they will choose Nonpayment of Wage if:
- Their payment is less than the state minimum wage (as of January 1, 2022, $14.25 per hour).
- They have not received payment for hours worked.
- They did not get overtime pay.
- They have been misclassified as an independent contractor.
- They have suffered tips violations or earned sick-time violations.
- They do not receive meal breaks.
Individuals should pick the Child Labor/Youth Employment option for child labor laws. Under Massachusetts state law, workers under 18 have limits on the hours and kinds of jobs they can do, and minors under 14 cannot work, except in a few cases.
If an employer with more than 50 workers violates the state's Domestic Violence Leave Act, that worker will select the Domestic Violence Leave option. The Act allows workers a maximum of 15 days of paid or unpaid leave for various reasons, including medical attention, counseling, legal assistance, time for court appearances, or other issues related to the abuse they or a family member has suffered.
If a worker on a public works project does not receive a minimum hourly rate or "prevailing wage," they will select a Prevailing Wage Complaint option. There is also an option for Employment Discrimination.
Agency Process for Work Complaints
After the complaint form is submitted online, the agency will review it as soon as possible, but this could take several weeks, depending on the volume of complaints. Not all complaints lead to an investigation.
Depending on the information the worker gives the department and its subsequent investigation, it may send the employer a warning regarding the complaint. It can penalize the business with a civil citation requiring it to pay unpaid wages or even file criminal charges against that business. It may also give the employee a private right-of-action letter, allowing them to sue on their own for unpaid wages.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.