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Massachusetts Laws Allow for Triple Damages

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Boston, MAMassachusetts employment law is designed to protect Massachusetts employees from employers who might take advantage of them. Among the labor laws in Massachusetts that protect employees is a new law that triples damages employers must pay when they violate certain employment laws. Some Massachusetts employees are turning to the courts to help fight against what they say are unfair working conditions.

Overtime WorkerA lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 500 workers at major health care systems in Massachusetts, alleging the workers were not properly paid for all hours worked. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges, employees were automatically deducted either 30 minutes or one hour from their paycheck because the employers assumed the employees were taking their breaks. However, the plaintiffs contend that they frequently went without breaks because of the demands of their jobs.

In fact, according to the lawsuit, as cited in the Worcester Telegram, (September 5, 2009) employees are often expected to be available to work throughout their shift, including during their unpaid meal breaks. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that at one medical center, employees were directed to work during their unpaid meal breaks, even if that meant they would not receive a full 30-minute break.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said that employers can only legally not pay employees for the break time if the employees are given an uninterrupted meal break. The lawsuit also alleges that employees completed unpaid training sessions and worked before and after the end of their scheduled shift.

According to an article at Boston's NPR (wbur.org, September 4, 2009) the lawsuit involved workers at Partners HealthCare, Caritas Christi, CareGroup, UMass Memorial Health Care and Boston Medical Center.

One company, Boston Medical Center, issued a statement that its employees are compensated fairly and it abides by all wage and employment laws. A statement from UMass, reported by the Worcester Telegram noted that UMass has gone to great lengths to improve its payroll practices and to ensure employees are paid fairly.

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