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Archived: Employers Ask Budget Conferees to Narrow Treble-Damage Law

Posted on June 9, 2011

AIM today urged the conference committee hammering out next year’s state budget to include a House provision narrowing the punitive 2008 treble damage requirement for violations of the wage and hour law.

Treble damagesThe association is asking member employers to contact conference committee members, along with House and Senate leaders, to support the provision. Members may use the AIMVoice system to express their opinions.

House members voted on April 28 to include in their Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal a provision limiting the treble damages statute to “willful” violations of the wage and hour statute.  The vote would remove the threat of punitive damages for employers who make honest mistakes understanding the complex state wage laws or who are involved in good-faith compensation disputes.

The Senate, however, did not include the treble damages provision in the spending blueprint it passed on May 27.

Both budgets address the commonwealth’s fiscal deficit without raising taxes.

“The current law penalizes companies that have done nothing outrageous, have not acted with an evil motive, and have not acted with reckless indifference to employees’ rights.  The same would be true in the case of a good-faith dispute over whether an employer owes commissions,” AIM President Richard C. Lord wrote to members of the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee.

“The House proposal would bring fairness and equity to a law which is now unduly punitive by restoring judicial discretion over damages for non-willful violations of the law – an appropriate moderation of the current statute. “

The narrowing of treble damages is one of several pro-growth budget provisions passed by both House and Senate for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Both proposals give municipal officials the authority to control health insurance costs; and both add stability to the Workforce Training Fund by setting it into a trust.