Case:   4 Commissioned Salespersons v. Furniture Company

Topic: Overtime; Sunday Pay; Premium Pay; Meal Breaks

Plaintiff’s Background: Four plaintiffs were 100% commissioned based inside salespeople employed by a company that sold name brand furniture.  The four ex-employees, who were represented by Phillips & Garcia, sued for multiple violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act – failure to pay over-time, premium pay for Sundays and holidays, and not paying wages for store confined meal breaks and off-hour required monthly sales meetings.

The Complaint

Overtime Pay: The plaintiffs worked one or both of two sales shifts, with the first shift starting in the morning when the store opened and the second shift starting in the late afternoon until when the store closed. Sometimes the plaintiffs worked both shifts in the same day. Sales employees were required to come in at least 15 minutes before the start of their shifts and were required to stay between 15 to 45 minutes after their shifts to settle out their sales, to tag furniture for the next day and/or to close the store.  During this pre- and post-shift work time the plaintiff could not earn commissions.

The plaintiffs were typically scheduled to work a forty-hour work week.  With the inclusion of pre- and post-shift work time, the work week regularly exceeded 40 hours.  The plaintiffs did not receive overtime and the defendant did not maintain a time clock of any kind. Because the plaintiffs were a 100% commission employee, they were expressly told, as part of the defendants’ payroll practices, to only list 40 hours in their commission reports, despite the fact that more than 40 hours had been worked in the week. The defendant also required the plaintiffs and other salespersons to attend a one-hour long sales meeting each month which was not part of their scheduled shifts.  The plaintiffs were not paid for these meeting times.

Sunday and Holiday Premium Pay: The plaintiffs were regularly required to work on Sundays and on Massachusetts designated legal holidays. Pursuant to Massachusetts law, the employer was required to pay the plaintiffs premium pay for Sundays and Massachusetts designated legal holidays. The obligation to pay premium pay is separate from the obligation to pay overtime, although the rate at the time was the same (1.5 times hourly rate).  

Meal Breaks: The employer also had a policy and practice of not allowing sales employees to leave the store for their meal breaks they were entitled to each shift. It was alleged that the employer's policy violated that Wage Act and entitled each plaintiff to be paid on an hourly basis for their meal breaks. 

Outcome:  The plaintiffs filed suit in mid-2019 and within six months Attorney Phillips had negotiated a substantial wage settlement.  Additionally, no plaintiff paid any out of pocket fees or costs.