Seyfarth Synopsis: A Massachusetts trial court judge ruled that employees were entitled to premium pay for work on Sundays at a call center, under a Massachusetts statute governing Sunday and holiday work at a retail “store or shop.”  Employers should consider whether to treat call centers the same as brick-and-mortar stores for purposes of Massachusetts’ Sunday premium pay requirements.

In Galloway v. SimpliSafe, Inc., employees of Internet-based home security company, SimpliSafe, Inc. filed a lawsuit, claiming premium pay for their work on Sundays at a call center in Boston.  Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 136, Section 6(50) provides that an employer that keeps open “a store or shop” with seven or more employees and engages in “the sale at retail of goods therein,” must pay non-exempt employees at the store or shop at a premium rate for Sunday work. SimpliSafe argued that the call center wasn’t “a store or shop” at which it conducted “the sale at retail of goods”  because it wasn’t open to the public and didn’t keep or sell merchandise on site.

Examining the plain meaning of the words “store” and “shop,” which are not defined by the statute itself,  the Court held that the call center qualified as a retail store because it was a business establishment at which goods were sold.  Requiring the hallmarks of a brick-and-mortar store, the Court wrote, would “not be logical in this technology-driven day and age.”  

The judge also rejected SimpliSafe’s argument that the employees could not file a civil suit to recover Sunday premium pay.  Even if they couldn’t sue under the Sunday pay law itself, the court concluded, the employees could file suit under the Massachusetts Wage Act for failure to pay wages that, in this particular case, happened to be unpaid Sunday premium pay. 

Employer Takeaways

Employers operating call centers in Massachusetts that require employees to work on Sundays should carefully assess the Galloway decision.  If call centers are no different from brick-and-mortar stores under the Massachusetts statute governing Sunday pay, then employers are obligated to pay Sunday premium pay (and probably holiday pay for Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day) to employees working there.  Contact your Seyfarth Shaw attorney to discuss whether this decision applies to your business and, if so, whether any pay practices should be re-examined or changed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.