A hotel in Berkshire County and its owner have agreed to pay more than $62,000 for allegedly making illegal deductions from their employees’ paychecks and for failing to maintain true and accurate payroll records, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The settlement agreement with the AG’s Office resolves two citations issued against S3E Inc. d/b/a The Springs Inn, located in New Ashford, and owner Arun D. Ankola for failing to pay wages in a timely manner and failure to maintain records. Five employees will receive restitution for improper payroll deductions.
“Our investigation determined that this employer took money out of employee paychecks in violation of state wage and hour laws,” AG Healey said. “We are glad to be able to return this money to the workers who earned it.” The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after receiving a complaint from a former employee who alleged he had worked numerous hours for which he was not compensated.
The investigation revealed that a former employee who lived on site at the hotel and was considered its hourly manager had numerous improper deductions taken from his paycheck between September 2014 and July 2016 and that his employer failed to provide him with a rental agreement. The Massachusetts Minimum Wage Law only allows employers to take a lodging deduction if there is a written rental agreement and, if a written rental agreement exists, only up to a certain dollar amount.
The AG’s Office also found that four other employees had either rent or miscellaneous deductions taken from their pay. Employers may not make deductions from an established wage rate unless clearly authorized by law, such as in a court order. Employers may also make payroll deductions if authorized by the employee in writing and if the deductions are in the employee’s interest. The $62,000 will be used to repay workers and to pay penalties.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s new Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.