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Annual Report Reveals $11.8M in Restitution and Penalties

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s seventh annual Labor Day report revealed that the Fair Labor Division ordered employers to pay $7.5 million in restitution and $4.2 million in penalties on behalf of employees.

Massachusetts Attorney General and candidate for governor Maura Healey during Sheriff Nick Cocchi's Annual Summer Cookout held at the Springfield Elks Lodge on Tiffany Street.
(Don Treeger / The Republican)
(TNS) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey released her seventh annual Labor Day Report, a summary of the office’s efforts to combat wage theft and other forms of worker exploitation in Massachusetts. The report showed that during fiscal 2022 the office assessed more than $11.8 million in restitution and penalties against employers on behalf of commonwealth workers.

“This Labor Day, we honor the resiliency of Massachusetts workers whose perseverance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has kept our communities and our economy going,” said AG Healey. “One of my top priorities is ensuring that workers from every industry are paid the wages they are entitled to and that they have access to the hard-fought workplace rights that our laws provide. We will continue to advocate for the rights of workers at the state and national level.”

The Labor Day Report details the actions of the AG’s Fair Labor Division in fiscal 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. During this fiscal year, the Fair Labor Division ordered employers to pay $7.5 million in restitution to employees and $4.2 million in penalties to the General Fund, according to the report.

More than 19,300 workers reportedly benefited from the AG’s enforcement actions.

In fiscal 2022, the Fair Labor Division continued its focus on combatting wage theft in the construction industry – where workers are often vulnerable to exploitation on the job, according to the report. In the construction industry alone, the division assessed more than $2.9 million in penalties and restitution and issued 217 citations against employers. In one case, the AG’s office cited a Wareham company and its owners for more than $1.2 million, including restitution for 41 employees, for prevailing wage violations and failing to submit certified payroll records, according to the report.

The Fair Labor Division also began to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion participation goals for both women and workers of color on state and state-assisted construction projects. The AG’s Office, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Building Authority and the Office of the Inspector General, trained more than 500 public purchasing and industry representatives about the state’s laws that require a diverse workforce on public construction projects, the report stated

The report stated that Fair Labor Division officials advocated on behalf of workers in the hospitality industry.

“As the state continues to rebuild from the pandemic, hospitality workers, particularly tipped workers in the restaurant industry, remain especially vulnerable due to constant exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace,” read the report.

Labor Division enforcement actions in the hospitality industry impacted more than 1,500 workers, resulting in over $982,000 in penalties and restitution, according to the report. In one case, a Subway restaurant agreed to pay $104,000 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay minimum wage, failing to pay employees on time, and for additional violations of Massachusetts’ earned sick time, paystub, record keeping, and child labor laws.

The Fair Labor Division also sought to ensure that employers across all industries in Massachusetts are providing workers with at least one 30-minute meal break per six hours of work as required by state law. In one case, the Division cited retailer Family Dollar $1.5 million in penalties across 100 locations in Massachusetts for more than 3,900 meal break violations affecting 620 employees.

In fiscal 2022, the Fair Labor Division also resumed the Attorney General’s Wage Theft Clinic. Originally launched in 2016, the Wage Theft Clinic connects workers with free legal consultation from private bar attorneys. The monthly clinic was paused during the height of the pandemic but has since restarted in April 2022. The AG’s office said the Wage Theft Clinic program has a renewed focus and commitment to serving the commonwealth’s most vulnerable workers

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