Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT and TO DECERTIFY THE CLASS
P. Leibensperger, Justice
17, 2015, this court (Frison, J.) certified a class of
plaintiffs consisting of security officers employed,
currently or in the immediate past, by defendant, Longwood
Security Services. The principal claim of plaintiffs and the
class is that Longwood failed to pay them in full for wages
earned. The claim is brought under the Wage Act, G.L.c. 149,
§ 148. Briefly stated, the claim is that for each
eight-hour shift, thirty minutes were deemed to be a meal
break. Longwood did not include in the employees' hours
worked the thirty minutes per shift for the unpaid meal
break. Plaintiffs claim that the thirty minutes should be
compensated as wages earned because they remained on duty
during the meal breaks.
issue presented by these motions is what legal standard
should be applied to determine whether the thirty-minute meal
break is compensable working time. Both sides agree that the
issue is one that no Massachusetts appellate court has
addressed. Longwood contends that the test for compensation
should be whether the employee's meal break time was
spent predominantly for the benefit of the employer (the
" predominant test"). Plaintiffs, on the other
hand, contend that the test for compensation should be
whether the employee was relieved of all duties (the "
relief from duties test") during the meal break. Based
upon Longwood's view that the predominant test is
applicable, it moves for summary judgment and decertification
of the class.
parties' Joint Statement of Material Facts ("
SMF") does not comply with Superior Court Rule 9A.
Instead of precise statements of undisputed fact, the SMF
consists of broad, argumentative statements of position and
equally argumentative responses. Of the 82 numbered
paragraphs in the SMF, the vast majority are disputed, denied
or qualified by the party opposing the statement. On that
basis alone, the court could conclude that because of the
disputes over material facts summary judgment should be
denied. In fact, this court in two previous rulings denied
the parties' attempts to obtain summary judgment.
Nevertheless, the parties persuasively presented at oral
argument That it would aid resolution of the case, and would
be necessary in any event for the trial of the case, for the
court to determine which test for compensable time should be
applied to plaintiffs' claims under Massachusetts law.
provides private security services at numerous locations,
such as housing developments, hospitals and colleges.
Longwood employed each of the plaintiffs as security
officers. Longwood maintains a policy whereby officers may
take a meal break, called a " 10-7, " for the
" max amount of time" of thirty minutes. Longwood
does not pay the officers for the thirty-minute meal
break. During the meal break, officers must
remain in uniform and are not allowed to leave their assigned
sector without permission. Longwood's written policy
states that " you must keep your radio on while on break
and respond when called to, even if during your break."
referenced above, plaintiffs' principal claim is under
the Wage Act, G.L.c. 149, § 148. Plaintiffs also claim
that Longwood's failure to count the thirty-minute meal
breaks as compensable, working time affected whether their
hours per week exceeded forty. They allege that the meal
break time should be counted and, as a result, in some weeks
they failed to receive overtime pay in violation of G.L.c.
151, § 1A. For both claims,  the issue is whether the
meal break time should be counted as compensable, working
Wage Act mandates that an employer pay its employees "
the wages earned" within a certain time period. The
statute does not define " wages earned." The
Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards, however,
promulgated applicable regulations. In 2003, the regulations
were codified at 455 Code Mass. Reg. § § 2.00 et
seq. In January 2015, the regulations were re-codified at 454
Code Mass.Regs. § 27.01 et seq. The regulations were
codified " [t]o clarify practices and policies in the
administration and enforcement of the Minimum Fair Wages
Act." Id. While the Minimum Fair Wages Act
refers to c. 151 of the General Laws (see, § 22 of c.
151), Longwood does not dispute that the regulations apply to
plaintiffs' Wage Act claim under c. 149. See
Longwood's Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, p.
regulations define " Working Time" at 454 Code
Mass.Regs. § 27.02:
Includes all time during which an employee is required to be
on the employer's premises or to be on duty, or to be at
the prescribed work site or at any other location, and any
time worked before or after the end of the normal shift to
complete the work. Working time does not include meal times
during which an employee is relieved of all work-related
duties . Working time includes rest periods of short
duration, usually 20 minutes or less. (Emphasis added.)
addition, 454 Code Mass.Regs. § 27.04 provides the
All on-call time is compensable working time unless the
employee is not required to be at the work site or another
location, and is effectively free to use his or her time for
his or her own purposes.
submit that these regulations and The predecessor regulations
at 455 Code Mass.Regs. § 2.01 (the "
regulations") constitute the governing law with respect
to the test to apply for determining whether the