The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted today to narrow the punitive 2008 Treble Damages Law that placed the Bay State near the bottom of national ratings of places to do business.
House members voted 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 House action came several days after AIM member employers sent more than 150 emails supporting changes to the statute.
“The House of Representatives has provided a victory for common sense and for hard-working Massachusetts employers looking to create economic opportunity for the people of the commonwealth,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.
“The measure will ensure that workers are protected from willful wage violations while employers no longer have to fear treble damages in cases of mistakes - say where an inexperienced employee makes a clerical or other honest error.”
The treble damages reform marks the second time in two days that the House has taken a landmark vote to help the Massachusetts economy. Representatives voted 113-42 on Tuesday night to give municipal officials the authority to set health-insurance co-pays and deductibles outside of collective bargaining. Municipal leaders are expected to use that savings to maintain jobs in critical areas such as schools, public safety and public works.
Both the treble damages and municipal health insurance provisions will move to the Senate once House members approve the FY 2012 budget this week.
AIM thanks Speaker Robert DeLeo, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, Vice Chair Steven Kulik and Assistant Vice Chair Martha Walz for their efforts to address the treble damages issue.