This summer, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that the Town of Brewster’s “cadet rate” for police academy students was illegal, and violated the state’s Wage Act. This is important for many communities who have attempted to implement a lower rate of pay for student or cadet officers, as such rules could now impose significant liablity (i.e. triple damages and attorneys fees) for such wage structures.
The appeals court case is: Daniel LANCTOT & others 1 v. TOWN OF BREWSTER.. No. 22-P-259, Decided: June 22, 2023. Among the court’s findings, it held that:
“Brewster’s bylaw creating a “cadet” position (with a discretionary rate of pay) conflicts with the plain language of the statute creating a “student officer” position (with a police officer rate of pay). G. L. c. 41, § 96B. “[A] municipality may not enact a bylaw, policy, or regulation that is inconsistent with State law.” Cioch v. Treasurer of Ludlow, 449 Mass. 690, 699, 871 N.E.2d 469 (2007). See G. L. c. 147, § 21A (establishing process for appointing “police cadets”). Thus, the plain language of G. L. c. 41, § 96B, prohibits precisely the sort of special classification that Brewster has tried to create.”