Many employers in Massachusetts require their employees to wear uniforms. While this is a legal practice, it is unlawful for employers to charge employees for these uniforms.
In January 2015, the Department of Labor Standards updated its wage and hour regulations. The new regulations, now located at 454 CMR 27.05(4), prohibit employers from passing on the costs of uniforms to employees:
(4) Uniforms. For employers requiring uniforms, the following shall apply:
(c) An employee or prospective employee who is required to purchase or rent a uniform shall be reimbursed for the actual purchase or rental cost of the uniform.
The old regulations did not contain this language and seemingly permitted employers to deduct the cost of uniforms from employees’ wages. They read:
(3) Deductions and the Calculation of Overtime. Where deductions are made from an employee’s wages for meals, lodging, or uniforms, the employee’s regular hourly rate used to calculate overtime compensation shall be the employee’s hourly rate before any deductions are made.
In short, Massachusetts law now bars employers from passing on the expense of uniforms to employees. Employees who are required to pay for uniforms can recover triple damages in a lawsuit, which may be brought as a class action.
If your employer requires you to pay for your uniforms – or does not reimburse you for the expense of purchasing a uniform – call us at the number above or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.