Signs point purchasers in the appropriate directions as staff await Theory Wellness’ first recreational customer on opening day, Jan. 11, 2019. Photo: Terry Cowgill

AG Maura Healey: Theory Wellness agrees to pay $300,000 in wages and penalties

Theory President and CEO Brandon Pollock, and Treasurer and Secretary Nick Friedman have been issued a citation for failing to pay employees premium pay for hours worked on Sundays and covered holidays.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a late statement by Theory Wellness.

BOSTON — A Great Barrington cannabis retailer must pay $300,000 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay hundreds of employees premium pay on Sundays and covered holidays.

Theory Wellness, which also has retail locations in Chicopee and Bridgewater, as well as South Portland, Bangor, and Waterville, Maine, agreed to the settlement, state Attorney General Maura Healey said in a written statement this afternoon.

Theory Wellness co-owner Brandon Pollock. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Theory President and CEO Brandon Pollock, and Treasurer and Secretary Nick Friedman have been issued one citation by the AG’s Office for failing to pay the company’s employees premium pay for hours worked on Sundays and covered holidays, in violation of state wage and hour laws.

“Our office works to ensure that employees are rightfully compensated under the law for the work they do across industries in Massachusetts,” Healey said. “As a result of our investigation and action in this case, nearly 300 employees who were not paid properly by Theory Wellness will now be made whole.”

The attorney general’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation in December 2020 following a complaint from a worker about premium pay. The division’s investigation determined that 282 employees were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in premium pay for work performed on Sundays and covered holidays.

State wage and hour laws require that employees of certain retail businesses be paid “premium pay” for working on Sundays and certain holidays. In 2021, employees who are entitled to premium pay must be paid 1.2 times their regular hourly rate for work on Sundays. In 2022, that rate will go down to 1.1 times their regular rate and in 2023, the premium pay requirement will be eliminated, pursuant to legislation passed in 2018, Healey said.

On Jan. 11, opening day for recreational sales at Theory Wellness, lines stretched out to Route 7. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Under the terms of the settlement with Healey’s office, Theory has agreed to pay in full the premium wages owed to impacted employees. The company cooperated with the investigation and has since come into compliance with the premium and holiday pay laws.

Healey added that any other workers who believe their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint by clicking here. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the office’s Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465 or visit the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website for materials in multiple languages. For information about premium pay for Sundays and holidays, click here.

This investigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Alex Sugerman-Brozan and Investigator Fransheska Alcantara, both of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.

The Edge reached out to Theory Wellness for comment and had not heard back by the time of publication. Shortly after publication, Theory provided the following statement:

Theory worked closely and openly with the AG’s office as soon as we were made aware of these inadvertent payroll errors. Most importantly, we had the opportunity to provide additional compensation to the former and current members of our team who were affected to resolve this matter swiftly.

The complexities of a cannabis company are vast with a litany of traditional business-related resources, such as mainstream payroll providers that handle setting up pay rates, unwilling to provide services due to our classification federally. This audit has been an opportunity to correct our policies and reaffirm our commitment to our team members, who make Theory what it is today.