PAGA Like Bills are coming to Massachusetts

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— The Massachusetts legislature is once again considering An Act to Prevent Wage Theft, Promote Employer Accountability, and Enhance Public Enforcement, which like other whistleblower-enforcement bills, is designed to expand the capacity of the Attorney General’s office by allowing employees to bring civil cases on the AG’s behalf. While the Massachusetts bill narrowly focuses on wage theft rather than a broader set of employee rights, it includes additional enforcement provisions. First, it holds “lead contractors” responsible for wage theft by subcontractors, removing the ability for larger companies to use ignorance as a shield. Second, the Attorney General’s office may issue a “stop work order” until wage theft violations are corrected. Stop work orders have long been used to combat safety violations in the construction industry. This bill would extend that power to wage theft cases. The unique qualities of the Massachusetts bill reflect the coalition of support behind it. Under the heading the Massachusetts Coalition to Stop Wage Theft, a coalition of community-based organizations, unions, and legal services groups including Greater Boston Legal Services, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health are hoping for a hearing soon to advance this bill.