Remedies Under the Massachusetts Wage Act

Remedies Under the Massachusetts Wage Act

The Massachusetts Wage Act protects employees by requiring the prompt payment of wages within six days of being earned. G.L. c. 149 § 148. The Courts have defined the purpose of the Wage Act to limit the time between the completion of an employee’s work and the payment of their wages. It protects employees from the unreasonable suppression of wages by deceitful employers. The Statute explicitly prohibits employees from waiving their rights under the Wage Act.

 The Wage Act is a favorable remedy for employees because it allows for the recovery of treble damages, costs and attorney’s fees. G.L. c. 149 § 150. In fact, courts have interpreted the damage provision of the Wage Act to be mandatory in successful claims.

In addition to claims under the wage act, plaintiffs can pursue traditional remedies as well. The Wage Act does not preempt common-law claims for breach of contract and related quasi-contract claims in actions for the recovery of unpaid wages. See Lipsitt v. Plaud, 466 Mass. 240, 246 (2013).

Unfortunately, plaintiffs are not entitled to pursuing additionally remedies under Massachusetts’ consumer protection statute, G.L. c. 93A. A recent Appeals Court decision upheld the Superior Court’s finding that 93A was inapplicable when an action arises out of an employment relationship. Under Massachusetts law, such disputes between employers and employees do not occur in the conduct of trade or commerce as required to maintain an action under G.L.c. 93A. DeCotis v. Town of Wrentham, Mass. App. Ct. No. 14-P-658 (2015).

The Massachusetts Wage Act grants statutory remedies including treble damages, costs and attorney fees. The Act also does not preclude an employee from seeking traditional common-law claims. However, employees are not entitled to remedies under Massachusetts’ consumer protection statute 93A.

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