Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Franklin
Heard: November 5, 2018
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November
17, 2015. The case was heard by Michael K. Callan, J., on
motions for summary judgment.
Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct
appellate review. Susan E. Garcia Nofi (Leticia
Medina-Richman also present) for the plaintiffs.
E. Lundy (David G. Gabor also present) for the defendants.
Christopher J. Schulte, of the District of Columbia, for
American Mushroom Institute, amicus curiae, submitted a
William C. Newman & Harris Freeman, for American Civil
Liberties Union of Massachusetts & others, amici curiae,
submitted a brief.
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, &
issue in this case is whether the plaintiffs, who work for
the defendants' company that grows, harvests, packages,
and distributes bean sprouts, are entitled to overtime pay
for the hours they worked over forty each week under G. L. c.
151, § 1A (overtime statute). A judge of the Superior
Court determined that the work that the plaintiffs performed
fell under the agricultural exemption to the overtime
statute, G. L. c. 151, § 1A (19), and, on cross motions
for summary judgment, allowed the defendants' motion and
denied the plaintiffs'. We conclude that, under the plain
language of the statute and the legislative history, the
agricultural exemption does not apply to the plaintiffs, and
therefore, they are entitled to overtime wages. Accordingly,
we reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the
defendants and the denial of the plaintiffs' motion. The
plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment shall be allowed.
forth the material facts contained in the judge's written
decision on the motions for summary judgment, supplemented
with undisputed facts from the record. Boazova
v. Safety Ins. Co., 462 Mass. 346, 347 (2012). The
defendants grow, harvest, package, and distribute bean
sprouts in a 44, 000 square foot facility that operates
year-round. Ten fifteen-by-fifty square foot rooms are
dedicated to growing the bean sprouts, a hydroponic operation
that is mostly automated. Beans are fed into machines that
pasteurize them and then discharge them into containers where
they sprout without the use of soil. Computers monitor the
sprouts and dispense water and fertilizer into the containers
plaintiffs, who were employed by the defendants for various
periods of time from 2012 to 2015, were not involved in the
growing operations, but instead cleaned, inspected, sorted,
weighed, and packaged the bean sprouts. They also cleaned the
facility and discarded waste. The plaintiffs regularly worked
more than forty hours per week; some weeks they worked as
many as seventy hours. However, the plaintiffs were never
paid the overtime rate for the hours they worked in excess of
forty hours weekly.
plaintiffs brought an action in the Superior Court, claiming
that the defendants, their former employers, failed to pay
them overtime wages as required by law. The defendants
contended that the plaintiffs are not entitled to overtime
wages because their work falls under the agricultural
exemption, which states that the overtime pay requirement
shall not apply to those "engaged in agriculture and
farming on a farm." G. L. c. 151, § 1A (19).
parties moved for summary judgment. The motion judge allowed
the defendants' motion and denied that of the plaintiffs.
We granted the ...