Employment Alert: Bill Mandating Treble Damages in Wage and Hour Disputes Becomes Law


On April 14, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law (Senate Bill 1059) imposing mandatory treble damages on employers who violate the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Law, M.G.L. c. 149 ß 148. The new law mandates the courts to treble damages awarded to employees for all violations of the Wage and Hour Law, without defense. The new law, which Governor Deval Patrick allowed to become law without his signature, goes into effect in 90 days, on July 13, 2008.

The business community largely opposed passage of the law, as it makes treble damages mandatory for any violation—including inadvertent violations and violations that occur despite an employer's good faith efforts to comply with the Commonwealth’s complex wage and hour laws. This automatic penalty may encourage employees, and employees' lawyers, to

initiate large-scale class action wage and hour lawsuits against employers in Massachusetts.

What Can Employers Do to Avoid These Penalties?

(See full alert for more information)

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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