The purpose of labor laws is to make certain that employers treat their staff fairly. There are federal and state laws that protect the welfare of employees and promote relationships between employers and employees that are stable and beneficial to all involved.

As a business owner, it may be difficult to fully grasp all of the regulations and restrictions that you must abide by in regard to your employees. This article delves into Labor Law Violations in Massachusetts, as well as Child Labor Laws, and Meal Break Regulations for states in New England and New York

Labor Law Violations in the State of Massachusetts:

In Massachusetts, the Office of the Attorney General enforces many of the laws regulating the workplace. The Fair Labor Division in the Attorney General’s office investigates violation complaints. Anyone can file a complaint and complaints are often filed anonymously.  The Fair Labor Division investigates substantiated complaints and seeks compliance and enforcement of the law.

The Attorney General’s Office will determine what course of action to take: This action may include:

  • Seeking restitution of unpaid wages;
  • Issuing a private right of action through a civil lawsuit;
  • Issuing a citation against the employer; or
  • Seeking criminal charges against the employer.

The Attorney General’s Office may issue civil citations to employers of employees in Massachusetts for violations of state payment of wage, child labor laws, minimum wage, overtime, prevailing wage, pay stub and record keeping, tip pooling, independent contractor, and retaliation laws.

Child Labor Laws:

Franchise Owners should comply with all labor laws and be ever mindful of child labor laws during the summer season when many minors are hired. Violations of the child labor laws are a serious matter and warrant attention to make sure your organization is complying with the law. Listed below are resources for State child labor laws in New England and New York.

The following is a brief synopsis of the Child Labor Law in Massachusetts:

  • Employment permits are required for minors under age 16, and educational certificates are required for minors 16 and 17 years old.
  • Employment permits and educational certificates must be issued for and maintained at the actual site where the minor is working.
  • Employment permits are issued by the superintendent of schools in the city or town where the minor lives.

14 -15 year old minors may NOT be employed:

  • during school hours EXCEPT as provided in approved word experience and career exploration programs
  • between 7:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. EXCEPT from July 1 through Labor Day, when they may work until 9:00 p.m.
  • more than 8 hours per day
  • more than 48 hours in a week
  • more than 6 days per week

16    – 17 year old minors may not be employed:

  • between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. EXCEPT in restaurants and race tracks where they may work until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and during school vacations, except on the last day of vacation
  • more than 9 hours per day
  • more than 48 hours in a week
  • more than 6 days per week

See links below for access to information from State Labor Sites in New England and New York

Meal Break Regulations:

Meal Breaks are a subject of much interest by employers and employees alike. In reviewing state laws related to this area, I have found that Massachusetts has several pertinent state regulations.

If an employee works six or more consecutive hours, he or she is entitled under Massachusetts law to a 30 minute meal break. In order for this to qualify as an unpaid break, the worker must be completely relieved of his or her duties, and must be free to engage in personal activities during this time. The state law provides for a penalty of at least $300, but no more than $600 per violation if this law is not carried out.

Massachusetts law does not specifically provide for any other breaks during the workday other than this 30 minute unpaid meal period. However, if employers do wish to give short breaks to workers during the day, Federal law states that these must be paid breaks if they are 20 minutes or less in length.

See links below for access to information from State Labor Sites in New England and New York

DDIFO’s Education Role

DDIFO is committed to offering Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners clear and easy to access information on how to comply with applicable state and federal employment laws. This information is available to all business owners at various state labor department sites. If your state is not listed below please refer to your particular state’s labor department for more information.

DDIFO advises all Dunkin Donuts franchise owners to respond timely and properly to employee complaints to minimize filings with the Attorney General’s office. Franchise owners should seek professional legal advice if they have a question or concern with compliance. Our activities are designed to provide Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners, access to knowledge they need to understand their responsibilities under the law and not to provide legal advice.

If you are contacted by your states Labor Department or Attorney Generals Office, DDIFO advises that you seek legal advice to assure you respond appropriately and that you are in compliance with the laws in your state.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice, an attorney that is knowledgeable with labor laws in your state should always be consulted.

Links to obtain more information for the New England States and New York State:

FAQ for Minors in the State of Connecticut

Meal Break Regulation in the State of Connecticut

Child Labor Laws in the State of Massachusetts

Meal Break Regulation in the State of Massachusetts

Child Labor Laws in the State of Maine

Meal Break Regulation in the State of Maine

Child Labor Laws in the State of New Hampshire

Meal Break Regulation in the State of New Hampshire

Child Labor Laws in the State of New York

Meal Break Regulation in the State of New York

Child Labor Laws in the State of Rhode Island

Wage Regulation Brochure State of Rhode Island

Child Labor Laws in the State of Vermont

The State of Vermont requires that an employer provide “reasonable opportunities” to eat and use toilet facilities. However, Vermont does not specify a minimum break period nor identify what a “reasonable opportunity” is. Vermont FAQ