MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A. Ford, Justice of the Superior Court.
case arises from a wage and overtime dispute. The plaintiff,
Christopher Graceffa, brought this three-count complaint
against the defendants, Mary Stokes Waller and Harvey Waller,
containing claims for nonpayment of wages in violation of
G.L.c. 149, § 148 (Count 1); nonpayment of overtime in
violation of G.L.c. 151, § § 1A and 1B (Count 2);
and breach of contract (Count 3). The defendants now move for
summary judgment on all claims.
following relevant facts are undisputed and viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. The defendants
own Orleton Farm, a private, non-commercial horse stable
located on the defendants' residential premises in
Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The defendants employed the
plaintiff at the farm from 1999 until 2005, and again from
June 2011 to December 2014. In 2011, the plaintiff was hired
as a stable hand, but in 2012 was promoted to stable manager.
There was never a written employment contract between the
2011 through 2014, the plaintiff's compensation increased
from a rate of $18 per hour, to $20 per hour, to $21 per
hour, and ultimately to $25 per hour, making him the highest
paid employee in the stable. The plaintiff did not keep a
record of the hours he worked, and he was consistently paid
on the basis of forty hours per week. His weekly pay was
neither increased nor decreased depending on the number of
hours he actually worked. In the course of the
plaintiff's employment as a stable hand, his duties
included mucking and picking stalls, cleaning harnesses, and
grooming, bathing, feeding, and watering the horses and
ponies. After the plaintiff's promotion to stable
manager, he was assigned additional duties that included,
among other things, supervision of stable hands, teaching and
training employees how to safely harness horses, preparing a
carriage for driving, and maintaining the horses when they
were unhitched to a carriage. As stable manager, the
plaintiff established schedules, assigned tasks, and
apportioned work for the stable hands. He also established
and implemented rules such as requiring that all stable
employees obtain his approval before switching shifts or
taking days off for personal time. He determined the
equipment the stable hands needed to perform their duties and
decided whether stable hands needed to work longer hours than
originally scheduled. In addition, the plaintiff heard and
addressed employee complaints.
Summary judgment is appropriate when, viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party, all
material facts have been established and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Cabot Corp. v.
AVX Corp., 448 Mass. 629, 636-37, 863 N.E.2d 503 (2007);
Mass.R.Civ.P. 56(c). " [T]he moving party must establish
that there are no genuine issues of material fact, and that
the nonmoving party has no reasonable expectation of proving
an essential element of its case." Miller v.
Mooney, 431 Mass. 57, 60, 725 N.E.2d 545 (2000).
defendants argue that no overtime is owed to the plaintiff
because his employment was exempt from overtime pay.
Specifically, the defendants argue that, because of the
nature of the plaintiff's duties while in their employ,
he should properly be classified as either an "
executive" or " administrative" person, and as
such is exempt from the Minimum Fair Wage Act, pursuant to
G.L.c. 151, § 1A(3). In his opposition, the plaintiff
asserts that he was a domestic worker, and argues that the
executive and administrative exemptions should not and do not
apply to such workers. Alternatively, the plaintiff argues
that, at the very least, a genuine issue of material fact
exists as to whether his employment at the farm fell into
these exempt categories of G.L.c. 151, § 1A(3).
G.L.c. 149, § 190--DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF
Laws c. 149, § 190(a), defines a " domestic
worker" in relevant part: " 'Domestic
worker', an individual or employee who is paid by an
employer to perform work of a domestic nature within a
household including, but not limited to: (i) housekeeping;
(ii) house cleaning; (iii) home management; (iv) nanny
services; (v) caretaking of individuals in the home,
including sick, convalescing and elderly individuals; (vi)
laundering; (vii) cooking; (viii) home companion services;
and (ix) other household services for members of households
or their guests in private homes . . ." Section 190(c)
of chapter 149, provides: " When a domestic worker who
does not reside on the employer's premises is on duty for
less than 24 consecutive hours, the employer shall pay the
domestic worker for all hours as working time under chapter
151 and regulations promulgated under said chapter 151."
problem with the plaintiff's argument is that G.L.c. 149,
§ 190(a), as amended through St. 2015, c. 10, § 39,
did not take effect until April 1, 2015. The plaintiff left
his position with the defendants in 2014, and his complaint
alleges that the defendants wrongfully failed to pay wages
and overtime from 2011 through 2014. There is no indication
that the legislature intended G.L.c. 149, § 190 to apply
retroactively, meaning that it is simply inapplicable to the
alleged violations in this case. Even assuming, arguendo,
that G.L.c. 149, § 190, should be applied retroactively,
the plaintiff's argument is still unpersuasive. He cites
no case law to support his proposition that employment as a
stable hand or stable manager qualifies him as a domestic
worker. Moreover, the plain language of G.L.c. 149, §
190(a), does not support his claim that he falls within the
definition of " domestic worker." See Monell v.
Boston Pads, LLC, 471 Mass. 566, 574-75, 31 N.E.3d 60
(2015) (" The general and familiar rule is that a
statute must be interpreted according to the intent of the
Legislature ascertained from all its words construed by the
ordinary and approved usage of the language, considered in
connection with the cause of its enactment, the mischief or
imperfection to be remedied and the main object to be
accomplished"). Section 190(a) uses the phrase "
domestic nature" and " within a household" and
lists jobs such as housekeeping, house cleaning, nanny
services, laundering, caretaking of sick and elderly
individuals, and cooking. The common characteristics that
these positions share are taking care of persons who reside
in the home and performing tasks that a person living in the
home would normally have to perform. The plaintiff's
employment as both a stable hand and stable manager is not
remotely similar to that type of work. The plaintiff's
responsibility was to manage the stable, take care of horses
and ponies located on the defendants' property, and to
supervise other employees who did the same. There is no
evidence in the summary judgment record that these duties
included caring for the defendants or required him to enter
the defendants' home to assist them in household chores.
Therefore, I conclude that the plaintiff does not fall within
the definition of " domestic worker, " as set forth
in G.L.c. 149, § 190(a).
G.L.c. 151, § § 1A and 1B--MINIMUM FAIR WAGES
Under the overtime pay statute, an employer must pay an
employee at least time and one-half for any hours worked in
excess of forty in the course of one week. See G.L.c. 151,
§ 1A . . ." Quazi v. Barnstable County, 70
Mass.App.Ct. 780, 785, 877 N.E.2d 273 (2007) (citations
omitted). " [T]he overtime pay statute does not apply to
any person employed 'as a bona fide executive, or
administrative or professional person or qualified trainee
for such position earning more than eighty dollars per
week.' . . . The Legislature provided no further
clarification regarding the meanings of these terms . . . The
Supreme Judicial Court, however, has ruled that in
interpreting the State statute, the courts should look for
guidance to analogous Federal law and to the common meaning
of these words." Id. Indeed, in Goodrow v.
Lane Bryant, Inc., 432 Mass. 165, 171, 732 N.E.2d 289
(2000), the Court pointed out that the applicable provisions
of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA"),
29 U.S.C. § § 201-09, are " nearly
identical" to those of G.L.c. 151, § 1A(3). See
also 454 Code Mass. Regs. § 27.03(3) (" The terms
'bonafide executive, administrative or professional
person' in G.L.c. 151, § 1A(3) . . . shall have the
same meaning as set forth in 29 C.F.R. Part 541").
The employer bears the burden of demonstrating that an
employee falls within an . . . exemption . . . Exemptions are
to be narrowly construed against the employers seeking to
assert them and their application limited to those
establishments plainly and unmistakably within their terms
and spirit . . . How an employee spends his or her time at
work is a question of fact, but whether the particular
activities subject the employee to an exemption from . . .
overtime requirements is a question ...