The Purpose of the AG Wage Complaint Form:
A wage complaint form must be filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office because the law requires it. Section 150 of Chapter 149 of the Massachusetts General Laws states:
An employee claiming [unpaid wages] 90 days after the filing of a complaint with the attorney general, or sooner if the attorney general assents in writing, and within 3 years after the violation, institute and prosecute in his own name and on his own behalf, or for himself and for others similarly situated, a civil action for injunctive relief, for any damages incurred, and for any lost wages and other benefits. An employee so aggrieved who prevails in such an action shall be awarded treble damages, as liquidated damages, for any lost wages and other benefits and shall also be awarded the costs of the litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
The law is a great example of bad writing and legalese, but the point is that a person must file a form with the AG to get the right to sue in court for treble damages, i.e. three times the wages. Note: if you get in touch with us, and we think you have a strong case, we will file the AG form for you.
How to get the form and what to do with it:
While a simple Google search will bring you to the form that must be filed with the attorney general before bringing a Wage Act claim in Massachusetts, the instructions are’t always clear. Sometimes people think they can’t file the form because they do not have pay slips and other documentation required by the form. This is what the form’s instruction sheet says:
“Before we can process your complaint, our office must receive full and complete information from you. Please check to make certain you have provided the following…Copies of pay stubs.” The form also states that you must know the exact amount your are owed and “if you claim unpaid vacation, include a copy of your employer’s vacation policy.”
In reality, you do not need all of these things if you don’t have them and can’t reasonably get your hands on them. The attorney general likes to receive this sort of documentation, but it is not strictly required. The AG wage complaint form exists, primarily, to alert the attorney general to the claim so that in special cases she can use her authority to get directly involved. In the rest of the cases, the result of the complaint is what’s known as a Private Right of Action letter, which authorized you to file suit in court for up to three times the wages you’re owed.
Feel free to contact us for a free review at 617-338-9400, including help filing the AG wage complaint form.
What happens after you file the AG form:
About one to two weeks after filing the form, either on paper or online, you will receive a letter in the mail from the AG’s office, giving you the right to sue in court. Although we help people with the form itself, many people come to us after receiving this letter. Although many people don’t expect this, the Attorney General will usually not take any action itself and will only direct you to find a private lawyer to sue. That’s where we come in. Once the lawsuit is filed in court, your leverage increases because only then are you entitled to treble damages if you win your case, because an “employer is not required to pay treble the lost wages and benefits if the wage and benefit payments were tardy but made before suit was brought.” Dobin v. CIOview Corp., No. CIV.A. 2001-00108, 2003 WL 22454602, at *7 (Mass. Super. Oct. 29, 2003). So, it makes sense to contact us as soon as possible with a wage dispute to file in a court.