Under New Hampshire law, employers are obligated to pay their employees all wages that are due them which includes salary, hourly wages, sales commission and non-discretionary bonuses. Vacation/sick/personal time pay will also be considered as wages when they are part of a company policy or agreement between the employer and employee. If the company has the ability to pay its workers but chooses not to and pays other bills instead, the company officers making that decision can be held personally liable for those wages. If the company fails to pay the wages, the employee may be able to recover not only the wages owed, but a doubling of that as liquidated damages.
For example, if a company in financial trouble tells its employees that it cannot afford to pay them but asks them to continue to work, the employer and the officer who requested them to work could be liable for double the unpaid wages owed for work done after the request. In addition they could be held liable for reimbursing the employees for reasonable attorney’s fees which they incur in pursuing their wage claim.
If the company intentionally miscalculates sales commissions after an employee leaves the company in order to cheat the employee, the unpaid commission that is actually owed may be subject to a doubling. In addition, the officer who was responsible for the intentional miscalculation of the commission may be personally liable for both the wages and the liquidated damages.
If an employee is let go it adds insult to injury if not only does he lose his job, but also does not receive all the pay to which he is entitled. If the employee believes he has been cheated out of pay due him, he should contact an employment attorney to discuss and analyze his options. If it is determined he has a valid claim, the best course of conduct might be to file a wage claim with the New Hampshire Department of Labor. Depending on the amount owed, an attorney may be willing to represent the employee on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that the attorney’s payment is tied to the amount of the employee’s recovery.
If the employee is not reimbursed his business expenses, a claim can also be filed with the Department of Labor. If the Department finds that the employer willfully failed to pay the expenses, then in addition to ordering the payment of the expenses, the employer may be assessed a civil penalty up to $1,000 per violation.
J. Daniel Marr is a Director and Shareholder at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. His legal practice includes counseling businesses and individuals on a variety of legal issues and advocating on their behalf. Attorney Marr is licensed and practices in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Attorney Marr can be reached at [email protected].