Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. d/b/a Family Dollar has been cited $1.5 million in penalties for more than 3,900 violations of the state’s meal break law. Family Dollar was issued two citations by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office for failing to provide employees who worked for more than six hours in one day at least 30 minutes for a meal break, affecting 620 employees across 100 locations throughout Massachusetts – the majority of which are in low-income neighborhoods. Family Dollar, a Virginia-based company, employs more than 900 people at its Massachusetts stores and operates more than 15,000 stores across the country.
“Workers give us their time, energy, and efforts to keep businesses running and our economy afloat,” said Healey. “These citations should send a message to all companies that they need to do right by their employees and provide meal breaks consistent with the law.”
The Attorney General’s Office’s Fair Labor Division began investigating Family Dollar after receiving multiple complaints that employees were not given proper meal breaks because of persistent staffing shortages. Investigators were able to determine that from 2018 to 2019 the company routinely cut the necessary payroll hours, leaving stores understaffed. This resulted in hundreds of employees being unable to leave their stores or take meal breaks.
Employees were routinely required to remain on store premises, even when they were able to punch out for meal breaks. Massachusetts’s breaks and time off laws provide workers with a right to at least a 30-minute meal break for each six hours worked in a calendar day. During this meal break, workers must be relieved of their duties and be permitted to leave the workplace. Any requirement to remain on store premises is considered working time and a violation of the law.
Workers who believe their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/wagetheft. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website – www.mass.gov/fairlabor – for materials in multiple languages.