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Massachusetts Law About Wages

Massachusetts Laws

MGL c.149 s.148 Weekly Wage Law. Provides details of how wages must be paid. Includes the following about employees who leave their employment: "any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge..."

MGL c.149, s.150 Provides for mandatory triple damages for weekly wage law violations.


Nonpayment of Wage and Workplace Complaint Form, Mass. Attorney General.

Selected Cases

Camara v. Attorney General, 458 Mass. 756 (2011). Wage Set-Offs. The employer violated the Wage Act by implementing a policy in " which a worker found by ABC to be at fault in an accident involving company trucks may agree to a deduction from earned wages in lieu of discipline." " An arrangement whereby ABC serves as the sole arbiter, making a unilateral assessment of liability as well as amount of damages with no role for an independent decision maker, much less a court, and, apparently, not even an opportunity for an employee to challenge the result within the company, does not amount to 'a clear and established debt owed to the employer by the employee.'" 

Crocker v. Townsend Oil Co., 464 Mass. 1 (2012). Release of Wage Act Claims. A general release doesn't free you from wage act claims unless they are specifically waived. "In light of the important public policy considerations underlying the Wage Act, we conclude that although claims arising thereunder may be released retrospectively as part of a settlement agreement,(3) such a release is valid only if it is voluntary and knowing, and, more specifically, absent express language that Wage Act claims are being released, a general release is ineffective to waive them."

Melia v. Zenhire, 462 Mass. 164 (2012). Forum Selection and Wage Act Claims. "We now recognize a presumption that forum selection clauses are enforceable with respect to Wage Act claims. A party seeking to rebut this presumption must produce some evidence indicating that (1) the Wage Act applies; (2) the selected forum's choice-of-law rules would select a law other than that of Massachusetts; and (3) application of the selected law would deprive the employee of a substantive right guaranteed by the Wage Act. On the introduction of such evidence, the proponent of the forum selection clause would retain the ultimate burden of demonstrating that the clause does not operate as a "special contract."" 

Other Web Sources

Attorney General's Guide to Workplace Rights and Responsibilities, Mass. Attorney General. Brochure covers "many of the laws regulating the workplace, including the payment of wages," with references to Mass. General Laws.

How to File A Wage Complaint, Mass. Attorney General. Includes a description of the complaint process with links to forms.

How to Protect Your Clients' Cash and Assets under New Massachusetts Personal Property Exemptions, by Robert J. Hobbs and Hon. Carol J. Kenner, NCLC, 2011. Includes information on wage garnishment with examples illustrating when rights should be asserted and plenty of cites to relevant laws.

Massachusetts Blue Laws, Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development. Explains rules regarding Sunday and holiday business operations.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules That A Release Must Specifically Reference The Massachusetts Wage Act In Order Be Binding Under That Statute
By Jonathan Keselenko, Dec. 19, 2012. Explains the ruling in Crocker v. Townsend Oil Co., that "absent express language that Wage Act claims are being released, a general release is ineffective to waive them."

Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws: What Every Employer Needs to Know, Foley Hoag. A 20-page guide "intended to provide Massachusetts employers with information about the basic requirements of federal and state wage and hour laws, as well as employer responsibilities regarding the proper classification of workers."

Massachusetts Payment of Wages Law: A Plaintiff's Perspective, Philip J. Gordan and Elizabeth A. Rodgers, 2009. This extensive (66 p.) source details employees covered, employers covered, wages covered, and enforcement.

Must employees be paid time and a half for Sunday work?, Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries.

Must I be paid for time that I am "on call"?, Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries.

New Treble Damages Requirement Makes Compliance With Wage/Hour Laws Even More Critical, Employment Law Advisor, July 2008. The state law differs from federal law, and this article "reviews several... pay practices and provides practical advice on how to avoid wage hour problems."

What is a Valid Set-off Under the Massachusetts Wage Act?, Massachusetts Wage Law Blog, 2012. Discusses wage set-offs in light of the Camara decision (above).

What is the minimum number of hours for which an employee must be paid on a given work day?, Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries.

Print Sources

Massachusetts Wage and Hour Handbook, MCLE, 2008.

Wages and Hours: Class and Collective Actions, Matthew Bender, 2008.