LEOMINSTER -- Two local men have filed a lawsuit in Worcester Superior Court against Market Basket, alleging that the supermarket violated the law by locking workers in overnight and requiring them to take unpaid breaks.

Leominster residents Daniel Sheridan and Hatsanai Manivong, named as the plaintiffs in the case, claim they are filing the suit on behalf of all night-shift workers, according to the complaint filed in court last week.

Sheridan started working for Market Basket in 1995 and left nearly two months ago. During that time, according to the complaint, he worked on a night crew in both Leominster and Bellingham. His jobs included stocking and washing floors, among other duties.

Manivong performed many of the same tasks from 2010 until 2012.

The complaint alleges that the overnight shift runs from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., all doors and other forms of exit are locked, and no employee working the night shift is allowed to leave for any reason.

It's a company-wide policy in all stores in Massachusetts, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs allege they were forced to clock out for one hour during their shift, and that the hour was unpaid. Night-shift employees are all locked in, and at most, according to the complaint, they are allowed to go into a room within the supermarket to have their break.

The policy, according to the complaint, has been in place for at least 10 years throughout the state.


The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and the Department of Workforce Department of Labor and Workforce Development has interpreted the Massachusetts Wage Statute to say that if a worker is required to stay on the premises during his or her break, it must be considered as compensable time because "the worker is not free to go where he or she pleases."

There are as many as 200 Market Basket employees working the night shift every day in the state, according to the complaint.

Peter Delano, one of the attorneys working on the case, said the plaintiffs are looking to be compensated for past lost wages, interest, and attorney's fees and costs.

Both plaintiffs left the company before the filing of the suit, and their reasons for leaving had nothing to do with the lawsuit or with the ongoing power struggle between the competing ownership factions of the supermarket, Delano said.

Since filing the suit, Delano said the plaintiffs found themselves "overwhelmed" with the media attention their suit was generating, and "are not interested in giving any further interviews."

Delano said it is his understanding that on at least one occasion, Sheridan approached his direct supervisor with his concerns.

"He felt like he should be able to go check on his kids or get a hamburger or something," he said. "I don't know verbatim what was said when he questioned his manager, but it was basically a shrug of the shoulders."

He said there is an easy solution to the problem.

"All they would have to do was have a manager on duty with keys letting them leave," he said.

Delano said that as of Thursday he had not heard from any Market Basket representatives, and he is not sure if the company has even been served yet with the complaint.

Messages left at the grocery chain's Tewksbury headquarters were not returned Thursday.

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