Massachusetts Court Holds that a Gas Station May Not be a Gas Station for Overtime Purposes

The Massachusetts Overtime Act requires employers to pay all employees time-and-a-half for all hours worked over forty in a workweek. There are, however, certain important exceptions to that requirement, including that employers do not need to pay overtime to employees paid a salary that also perform in an administrative or executive capacity. You can read more about those exemptions here. Known as the ‘white collar exemptions,’ employees serving in these capacities are not entitled to overtime under the Massachusetts Overtime Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Massachusetts Overtime Act contains a number of other exemptions, in addition to the ‘white collar’ ones. For example, employees who work in a gas station are not entitled to overtime under the Massachusetts Overtime Act regardless of the types of duties they perform. That seems pretty straightforward. And it was. At least until July 8, 2019.

On April 22, 2019, a group of managerial employees sued Speedway claiming that Speedway violated the Massachusetts Overtime Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay them overtime. Not surprisingly, Speedway moved to dismiss the Massachusetts Overtime Act claim, arguing that the employees are not entitled to overtime under that law by operation of the gas station exemption, claiming that it is “common knowledge” that Speedway is a gas station in that motor vehicles go to Speedway to get refueled.

The employees disagreed. To them, Speedway is a “convenience store,” not a gas station and, as a result, Speedway employees do not work in a gas station for purposes of the Massachusetts Overtime Act because they assist customers, run cash registers, stock shelves, load/unload/count inventory, and clean.

The Court sided with the employees, finding that it wasn’t appropriate to determine whether Speedway is a ‘gas station’ or a ‘convenience store.’ As a result, the case will proceed to discovery on this issue. The Court’s order did, however, suggest that plaintiffs were not employed in a ‘gas station’ if they performed the sorts of duties alleged in the complaint. If the case does not settle, Speedway will surely file a motion for summary judgment on this issue and will try, again, to dismiss the claims arising under the Massachusetts Overtime Act.

So, yes, a Massachusetts court has decided that a gas station may not be a gas station. This certainly underscores the general proposition that exemptions to overtime are to be narrowly construed and that Massachusetts employees are presumed to be entitled to overtime.

Do you think you are owed overtime for hours working over 40 hours in a workweek? Contact us today.