Clinics & Projects
Wage and Hour
Wage theft and worker exploitation is common in Massachusetts. The Wage Theft Unit assists aggrieved employees in recovering unpaid wages. Volunteers have the opportunity to assist workers in recovering unpaid wages by advising them at monthly wage clinics and/or providing direct representation to them outside the context of the monthly wage clinic.
WAGE THEFT CLINIC
At the Wage Theft Clinic, which is held in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office (AG0), volunteer attorneys advise workers on matters related to the recovery of unpaid wages.
Suffolk Law School, 120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108
One Monday a month from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
To see full schedule, please click here
HOW IT WORKS
- The AGO hosts the clinic at Suffolk Law School. VLP attends and sets up our own tables at the clinic.
- Volunteers arrive at 4:00 pm and should go to the VLP tables, which will be marked with a sign.
- The AGO sends potentially eligible clients to VLP’s tables.
- As clients arrive, they are screened for eligibility by a VLP paralegal.
- Once clients have gone through an intake and are eligible for VLP services, clients will be paired with a volunteer.
- Volunteers will assess the client’s case and advise them on recovering unpaid wages if it is determined that they have an unpaid wage claim. Sometimes, attorneys will advise clients on recovering in recovering unpaid compensation on a contract basis if it is determined that they do not have a viable wage claim within the statute of limitations.
- Once an assessment of a case is completed, volunteers have the opportunity to pick up the case for direct representation if VLP determines the case is appropriate for direct representation. However, attorneys need not take a case for direct representation.
DIRECT REPRESENTATION CASES
Volunteers have the opportunity to provide direct representation to clients outside of the Wage Clinic. Volunteers typically send demand letters to employers and/or file cases in court to recover wages. Typically, they also negotiate settlements with the employer.
Attorneys can pick these cases up in two different ways. They can pick them up by meeting clients at the clinic and opting to take their cases after conducting an assessment on the merits (in consultation with a VLP staff attorney). Volunteers also can receive cases by signing up for the VLP Wage Theft Panel. VLP periodically sends cases out a listing of cases for referral by email with a brief description of the issues involved without identifying the parties. If the volunteer is interested, VLP will assign them the case and provide a referral memo with the facts of the case and analysis of legal issues involved.
In all cases, VLP provides as much mentorship and guidance to volunteers as the volunteer feels that they need. This can include, but is not limited to, reviewing documents drafted by the the volunteer attorney, offering guidance in settlement negotiations, helping them understand the various nuances of wage and hour law and other guidance.
- Volunteers must be licensed in Massachusetts and members of the bar in good standing.
- Volunteers of all experience levels are welcome.
- All volunteers must take the wage theft training prior to attending the clinic or taking on a case for representation. An exception is made for experienced employment attorneys.
BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING
- Mentorship: Our newer attorneys learn from more experienced attorneys.
- Volunteers help clients fight against unjust employment practices and recover wages that are essential to their subsistence.
- Networking: Volunteers meet fellow attorneys and get connected with other legal professionals.
- The Volunteer Lawyers Project provides primary malpractice insurance for all pro bono work.
*Current Partners: Greater Boston Legal Services Inc., Justice at Work, Lawyers for Affordable Justice, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Suffolk University Law School, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Brazilian Worker Center, Brazilian Women’s Group, Chelsea Collaborative, Chinese Progressive Association, and Metrowest Worker Center.