Massachusetts retailers must pay employees who work on Sunday “one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate.” M.G.L. c. 136, § 6(50). However, traditionally, this law could only be enforced by the Attorney General: Individual employees and groups of employees could not sue under the Wage Act for violations of the retail premium pay laws (sometimes referred to as a “blue law”) and receive treble damages and attorneys’ fees. Recently, however, the Business Litigation Session of the Suffolk Superior Court issued an interesting opinion that held that the contrary was true.
In Bassett et al. v. Triton Technologies, Inc. et al., C.A. No. 1684CV03475-BLS2, Judge Salinger held that “the Wage Act requires prompt payment of all wages earned by an employee, including higher wages earned under G.L. c. 136, § 6(50), for work on Sundays.” Judge Salinger further noted that the Wage Act “applies to all wages earned, whether the obligation to pay the wage is solely a function of a private contractual arrangement or arises in whole or in part under a statute.” This reasoning is consistent with two other cases in recent years. Lambirth v. Advanced Auto, Inc., 140 F.Supp.3d 108, 110 (D.Mass.2015) (denying motion to dismiss a Massachusetts Wage Act claim enforcing overtime owed under federal law); Carroca v. All Start Enterprises and Collision Center, Inc., C.A. No. 12–11202–DJ, 2013 WL 3496537 at *3 (D. Mass July 10, 2013) (granting summary judgment for plaintiff on claims under the Massachusetts Wage Act where plaintiff demonstrated entitlement to overtime wages under federal law).
Only employees who work in a store, a shop or a liquor store that employs seven people or more, counting the owners, are entitled to Sunday premium pay.
Judge Salinger’s decision will help experienced wage and hour attorneys bring Wage Act cases for non-payment of wages earned under the provisions of the Massachusetts retail blue laws.