A large nonprofit organization in Shrewsbury, MA has breached the contract.

Additional Information:

I’ve raised money for a large nonprofit organization in Shrewsbury, MA.   The organization is owned by a private person.  Now she has breached our contract and refuses to pay my commissions.  We have a written contract and witnesses as well. What should I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Inasmuch as commissions are considered wages under the Massachusetts Wage Act, you should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, Fair Labor Division, in order to preserve your right to sue the employer or its President or Treasurer under the Wage Act for treble damages plus attorney’s fees and costs.  The Fair Labor Division has posted its complaint form on its web page at this link: http://www.mass.gov

Simply print out the form, fill it in and mail to the Fair Labor Division at the address on the web page.  You may not file your unpaid wage claim in court until at least 90 days after your filing of your unpaid wage complaint with the Fair Labor Division so that it has time to investigate your claim.  In the alternative, you could sue the nonprofit organization immediately for the breach of contract, but you would not be able to recover multiple damages, attorney’s fees and costs unless that is specified in your contract.
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In the state of Massachusetts, can I be fired after giving my notice?

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I have been at my job here in Worcester for 4 years and am moving to Florida in a few months to work for a competitor company.  I’d like to give a substantial notice so they can hire someone else and I can help get the new person trained but I’m afraid they will fire me and then I’ll be without a job until I move. Is it legal for them to fire me after I give notice?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Unless you have an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement that would establish your right to continue your employment during the notice period, the employer may terminate your employment after you give your notice, if it wishes.  This is an employment-at-will state, which means that either party to the employment relationship may end it at any time for any reason that is not illegal.

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In the state of MA, can an employer take an unauthorized deduction from an employee’s paycheck?

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Is it legal for an employer to take an unauthorized deduction from an employee’s paycheck for damage done to company property?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

No, an employer may not take any deduction for such damage, even if ostensibly authorized by the employee under the employer’s policies, unless there has been a court determination that the employee is responsible to the employer for the damage because the deduction violates the “special contract” provision of the Massachusetts Wage Act.

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In Massachusetts, can severance payments be terminated?

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Can my former employer terminate severance payments (salary continuation) if I gain employment prior to the severance term expiring?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

There is no obligation in Massachusetts for employers to pay severance in most instances. The employer may unilaterally set the terms upon which it will pay severance, or the employer and employee may agree to the terms of the severance as part of a separation agreement. Unless the termination of the severance payments is in breach of the terms agreed upon by the parties, the employer may cease such payments upon the employee’s gaining subsequent employment.

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Are written employment offers legally binding in Massachusetts?

Additional Information:

In my original employment offer letter, I was offered travel reimbursement as part of my compensation. I have submitted my travel expenses but my employer hasn’t reimbursed me. Are employers in Massachusetts legally required to pay vehicle expenses that were offered in a written employment offer?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The employment offer and your acceptance of it form a contract binding upon the employer and the employee. An employer’s failure to pay an employee’s travel expenses in accordance with this contract is a breach of the employment contract, assuming that the employee has submitted the documentation required by the contract. The employee could therefore bring a breach of contract action in court to obtain the unpaid reimbursements.

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Can a MA employer deny employment for misdemeanors from 7 years ago?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Generally, an employer may not request information from a job applicant concerning any misdemeanor convictions older than five years.  That does not mean that the prospective employer may not acquire the information from another source.  Some employers, such as criminal justice agencies, armed forces, and many social services agencies or providers are authorized to obtain criminal record information about a job applicant.  Once it has legitimately acquired the information concerning the conviction, the prospective employer may rely upon it to deny employment, if it bears on your qualifications for the job.

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Can my current employer give a potential employer a bad reference about me?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The employment reference process is one that the courts have recognized as privileged so long as the past employer conveys honest reference information. In other words, so long as your previous employer does not make any false factual statements, it can provide an unflattering, or “bad”, reference. Your previous employer has a duty to respond truthfully to questions about your employment or it could be liable to your potential employer for deceiving it about your employment history. Additionally, you may have authorized your prior employer to provide the information as part of your job search by executing some form of authorization for your prospective employer or job search agency.

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