Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Triple Damages for Unpaid Wages

Yesterday, a new law (St.2008, c.80) mandating triple damages for violation of the weekly wage law was enacted after Gov. Patrick failed to sign or veto it. The governor had sent a letter to the Senate asking that the bill be amended to allow some judicial discretion in these cases, but the Senate declined to include the amendments.

Many believed that MGL c.149, s.150 already required triple damages in cases of failure to pay wages or overtime, but in the 2005 case, Wiedmann v. The Bradford Group, 444 Mass. 698, the Supreme Judicial Court held that a judge's award of triple damages under chapter 149 section 150 for a violation of the weekly wage law, was discretionary, not mandatory. In response, the legislature passed this law, including a section which states "This act is intended to clarify the existing law and to reiterate the original intention of the general court that triple damages are mandatory."

For reaction from labor and business, see articles in the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. More information on payment of wages and wage violation complaints is available at Mass. Law About Wages.