You have a right to fair wages
In Massachusetts, all workers, regardless of immigration status, are presumed to be employees and with very few exceptions employees must be paid the State minimum wage of $15.00 per hour and a service rate (applied to workers who provide services to customers and who make more than $20 a month in tips) of $6.75 per hour. Service workers must get at least the minimum wage when tips and wages are combined. After 6 hours of work, you must be given a 30 minute meal break (though it does not need to be paid). You should be paid 1 ½ times your hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 a week; there are a few occupations in which an overtime premium is not required.
The Boston Jobs, Living Wage and Prevailing Wage Ordinance requires that all workers providing labor under a service contract or subcontract with the city of Boston for $25,000 or more, or for a direct recipient of assistance from the City of $100,000 or more, be paid a living wage of at least $16.38 per hour (updated in July annually). If your employer has failed to pay you this minimum rate, you have the right to file a living wage complaint by calling 617-918-5499 or through this on-line form to submit a complaint. Note that only for-profit employers who employ at least 25 Full-Time Equivalent Employees (FTE's) and not-for-profit employers who employ at least 100 FTEs who have been awarded a service contract or service subcontract or assistance (i.e. grants, loans, tax incentives, subsidies, and loan forgiveness) from the City of Boston are covered by this Ordinance.
If you are an employee employed on a public works project, you must be paid the prevailing wage which is higher than the minimum wage. In Boston, if you are providing labor under a city contract for cleaning and security services that went out to bid after July 1, 2021 you must be paid the prevailing wage rate set by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards. If you work on a city contract for cleaning or security services and believe you have not been paid the prevailing wage, call 617-918-5499 or use this on-line form to submit a complaint.
file a complaint
If your employer does not pay you for all hours worked, pays you below minimum wage or at the wrong rate, that is wage theft. If you believe your employer has violated Massachusetts wage and hour laws and/or you are a victim of wage theft, you can file a complaint with the Fair Labor Division or 617-727-3465.
Wage Theft complaints are shared with the Boston Licensing Board who can hold a hearing or disciplinary action against employers seeking a license or renewal. Industries include:
- food service,
- alcohol service,
- billiards halls,
- bowling alleys, and
- fortune telling.
You have a right to a safe and healthy workplace
You have a right to workers compensation
You have a right to a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation
Massachusetts Law outlaws treating people unfairly based on their membership in a "protected class." Massachusetts employment discrimination laws apply to employers with six or more employees, and any employer of a domestic worker regardless of the employer’s size. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, age, criminal record (inquiries only), handicap (disability), mental illness, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, active military personnel, and genetics. In addition, employers have an affirmative responsibility to provide parental leave to biological and adoptive parents. Your employer must also have a written policy against sexual harassment.
File a complaint
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly based on protected class, you may file a Complaint of Discrimination with the following departments:
- The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination or 617-994-6000.
- The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division or 617-963-2917.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Coalition or 1-800-669-4000.
You have a right to earned sick time
Working under 18
Domestic Workers rights
Boston Residents Jobs Policy
The Boston Resident Jobs Policy (BRJP) requires that private development projects over 50,000 square feet and any public development project must meet the following employment standards:
- At least 51% of the total work hours of journey people/skilled workers and 51% of the total work hours of apprentices in each trade must go to Boston residents.
- At least 40 percent of the total work hours of journey people/skilled workers and 40% of the total work hours of apprentices in each trade must go to People of Color.
- At least 12% of the total work hours of journey people/skilled workers and 12% of the total work hours of apprentices in each trade must go to women.