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Wage Theft Division

Ensuring that workers are paid according to the Boston's living wage laws.

Wage theft is an employer’s unlawful failure to pay workers the wages they are due. This crime is more common than many people may think. Two-thirds of low-wage workers surveyed in a 2008 study were found to be victims of wage theft. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that more than $50 billion is stolen from workers’ paychecks each year. That’s more than three times the losses of all other annual robberies combined.

How We Help

The Office of Labor Compliance and Worker Protections ensures compliance with the City’s living wage laws. It also works with the Boston Licensing Board to ensure that employers are paying their workers lawfully. When the Office receives a wage theft complaint and confirms its merit, it will take one of two actions. This depends on whether the employer is licensed or seeking a license in an industry overseen by the Boston Licensing Board. These industries include food service, alcohol service, lodging, billiards halls, bowling alleys, and fortune telling.

steps taken:
  • For employers licensed by the Boston Licensing Board: The division will notify the board of the complaint. The board will then determine if the complaint warrants a hearing and any disciplinary action against the employer.

  • For employers NOT licensed by the Boston Licensing Board: The division will advise the victim of legal routes they can pursue and/or refer the case to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

If you think you have been a victim of wage theft, please file a wage theft complaint. A division representative will review your case and get back to you shortly.

File a wage theft complaint

If you think you have been a victim of wage theft, please file a wage theft complaint. A division representative will review your case and get back to you shortly.

File a complaint

Frequently Asked Questions


Anyone who works for an employer in the city of Boston can file a complaint, regardless of immigration status.

Wage theft can take many forms. You are a victim of wage theft if your employer:

  • Fails to pay you the agreed-upon rate for your labor.
  • Fails to pay you the minimum $15.00  per hour required by law (except for tipped employees and agricultural workers).
  • Withholds or distributes tips unfairly.
  • Fails to provide agreed-upon paid vacation or severance pay.
  • Fails to pay “time-and-a-half” (your hourly rate plus 50%) for overtime hours worked in excess of 40 a week (with a few exceptions). Effective January 1, 2023, retailers are no longer required to pay “time-and-a-half” on Sundays unless the employee works over 40 hours per week.
  • Fails to provide earned sick time.
  • Mis-classifies you as an independent contractor if you legally qualify as an employee entitled to unemployment and tax benefits.

No. When you file a wage theft complaint, we will not ask for photo identification, citizenship documents, or for any information regarding your immigration status. We will not report your status to any other government agency. Our only concern is that employers are held accountable for fairly compensating all workers.

We will NOT notify your employer of your complaint without your express permission. However, in order to further your case to the Boston Licensing Board and seek restitution, you will need to authorize that notification.

We will try. By bringing your complaint to the Boston Licensing Board, which has the authority to renew or revoke essential business licenses, we hope to put enough pressure on negligent employers that they will find it in their best interest to resolve the matter voluntarily by paying any back wages that are due.

There are three direct legal routes available to victims of wage theft. You may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which enforces the state’s wage and hour laws and/or file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, which enforces federal wage and labor laws. You can also hire a lawyer and bring civil action against your employer.

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