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State Wage Act remedies are
not available for FLSA violations

Devaney v. Zucchini Gold (Massachusetts 04/14/2022)
Sent to Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 04/15/2022

Employees sued claiming failure to pay overtime wages as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) plus violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act for the untimely payment of overtime wages due solely pursuant to the FLSA.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the Wage Act remedies (such as treble damages) cannot be awarded for failure to pay those wages.

The FLSA has "an unusually elaborate enforcement scheme," including, among other things, liquidated damages (essentially resulting in a doubling of the wages). Those liquidated damages can be avoided by showing that the employer acted in good faith and had a reasonable ground for believing that it did not violate the FLSA.

The Wage Act requires timely payment of "wages earned," and one of the remedies is a trebling of the wages. The Wage Act does not provide for a good faith, reasonable ground exception.

The court found that allowing a remedy under the Wage Act would conflict with the FLSA's comprehensive remedial scheme. Thus, when the sole claim for overtime wages rests on the FLSA, employees are limited to the remedies provided under the FLSA.

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