RETALIATION TRIPLES DAMAGES
A jury found an employer violated the Wage Act both by failing to pay the full amount of a commission earned and by terminating the employee when she complained about it. This caused her to lose an added commission. The lower court refused to triple the added commission as a lost wage. Under the employer’s policy, a salesperson’s eligibility for commissions ended on the termination of employment for any reason. The lower court said that since the unpaid commission was not due and payable at termination, it could not be a lost wage. The supreme court said since the termination was retaliation for complaining about not being paid commission owed, it was a lost wage under the act subject to tripling.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT… Massachusetts courts have been expanding liability for wage act violations. Here, the fact that the reason for termination was ruled to be retaliation made the pending but not yet due added commission lost wages which required tripling.