SB995 Regarding Treble Damages

Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development

The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of its member hospitals and health systems, physician organizations and allied healthcare providers, appreciates the opportunity to offer testimony in support of SB995, An Act Regarding Treble Damages.

SB995 would bring important equity to the application of penalties related to violations of the state’s wage and hour laws. Under recently enacted law, all violations of Massachusetts wage and hour statutes are subject to mandatory treble damage awards with no available defense. This means that any and all alleged violations, including inadvertent violations or omissions, are considered to be outrageous in nature and the result of an employer possessing evil motive or reckless indifference to the well-being of employees. This standard unfairly and overly penalizes employers for violations committed without intent. SB995 would correct this inequity by limiting the current extra-punitive application of treble damages to those instances of “willful” violations of the law. The important clarification in this bill recognizes the fact that errors and mistakes can be made, and in such unintentional instances employers should not be subject to onerous punishment.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important matter. If you have any questions or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA's Vice President of Government Advocacy, at (781) 262-6055 or msroczynski@mhalink.org.