Introductory Post from a Massachusetts Wage Lawyer

I’m a little late with this introductory post, but now that this page has garnered a bit of readership, I figured I would take a moment to introduce myself.

My name is Nicholas Ortiz. I graduated from Vanderbilt University and Boston University School of Law and took my first wage case in 2003, my first full year of law practice. My first wage client was a man who had been worked relentlessly by his employer in the records room of a hospital. That was fine, but there came a point when “get the job done” became “get the job done, but you’re not allowed to put all of your time down on your time sheets.” When he complained, he was let go. After we took the case, we settled it favorably for the client by rounding up several witness statements from fellow employees. These employees gave statements that confirmed the long hours my client worked, and these hours did not match his time cards, which the employer was contending were correct. Most importantly, we obtained an affidavit from a long-time, retired employee with no vested interest in the case; he had first-hand knowledge, a lot of credibility, and he supported our version of events.

I think wage law practice is one of the most interesting and rewarding areas of practice these days in Massachusetts. Defense lawyers grumble a bit about some of the more employee-friendly changes in the law (most notably, mandatory treble damages in 2008), but I suspect that they like it a little bit too, if for no other reason than that there are some really interesting issues to fight about. On my usual side of things–the plaintiff’s side–I have the added bonus of helping people get paid what they deserve.

Here are some of those interesting issues that we’ve been dealing with in some of our recent cases. I’ve already written about some of them elsewhere on this site.

  • What is an illegal special contract or contractual provision that wrongfully deprives an employee of his earned wages?
  • What can be deducted from wages–i.e. what is a “valid set-off” under the Wage Act?
  • What sort of off-the-clock work must one be paid for?
  • What are the limits of what employers can do with commissions and performance bonuses? When, if ever, can they make an employee forfeit an earned bonus or commission?
  • Independent contractor misclassification issues: what types of damages can a wrongfully classified “independent contractor” recover?
  • Vacation pay issue.
  • Illegal tip sharing issues.
  • Overtime and exemptions.

I’ll get to more of these topics as this site progresses. Thanks for reading!

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