May 3, 2011
Please be advised that in its decision in Camara v. Attorney General, SJC 10693, dated January 25, 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that, under the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Laws, unless otherwise authorized or required by law, an employer may not deduct funds from an employee's wages except where the funds deducted constitute a valid "set off" under c. 149, Section 150, or in the Court's words, "where there exists a clear and established debt owed to the employer by the employee." Accordingly, the Court struck down an employer policy which permitted the employer to deduct funds from its employees' wages for damage to company vehicles. Significantly, the Court did not limit its decision to situations where the deductions would bring the employee's wages under the minimum wage. In light of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling in Camara v. Attorney General, SJC 10693, dated January 25, 2011, the, Department of Labor Standards hereby rescinds opinion letters MW-2001-019 (12/26/01-Deductions from Wages for Uniform Maintenance), MW-2003-003 (2/27/03-Deductions from Wages), and MW-2003-010 (09/10/2003-Administrative Fee for Wage Garnishments) interpreting the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wage Law, G.L. 151, and Regulations.