Psychologist Abraham Maslow once observed, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” That sums up the state of commission litigation under the Massachusetts Wage Act: mandatory treble damages, attorneys’ fees, and the prospect that a court might strike a term of an agreed-upon commission plan as an unenforceable “special contract” that deprives an employee of earned wages has led to an uptick in the number of commission claims. Given these potential consequences, employees sometimes try to fit a square peg into a ...
Over the past few years, lower courts in Massachusetts have grappled with determining whether the “ABC test” under the independent-contractor statute provides the proper framework for assessing joint-employment liability. The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has finally answered that question. On December 13, 2021, in Jinks v. Credico (USA) LLC, the SJC held that the independent-contractor statute’s “ABC test” does not apply and instead adopted the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “totality of the circumstances” approach to joint employment.
Credico was a client broker for independent direct marketing companies. It contracted with DFW Consultants, Inc. (DFW) to provide sales and marketing services for its clients in Massachusetts. To provide those services, DFW hired three of the plaintiffs – Kyana Jinks, Antwione Taylor, and Lee Tremblay – as salespeople. DFW classified Jinks and Taylor as independent contractors and Tremblay as an employee.
Misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees is a costly mistake. Among the many issues arising from misclassification is potential liability under federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws. As the laws continue to change and develop, so do the risks to contracting entities.
On September 1, 2021, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey approved two versions of a ballot initiative (version 1, version 2) concerning the relationship between app-based drivers (such as those who transport passengers or deliver food) and the companies with which they contract. If passed, the ballot initiative will enact the Relationship Between Network Companies and App-Based Drivers Act (the “Act”) and classify such drivers as independent contractors, not employees. It will also require ride-sharing and food-delivery companies to provide them with certain benefits.
Connecticut appears poised to become the next state to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, following the trend set by California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and most recently Maryland, in addition to numerous local jurisdictions. Governor Ed Lamont is expected to sign H.B. 5004, which passed the state’s House and Senate earlier this month.
Under the bill, the state’s current minimum wage of $10.10 will increase to $11 on October 1, 2019. From there, it will increase one dollar every eleven months until it reaches $15 on June 1, 2023. Thereafter, increases ...
Maryland appears poised to increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next few years, joining California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and various local jurisdictions, including its own Montgomery County and neighboring District of Columbia.
On March 14, 2019, the Maryland Senate approved a bill (SB 280) that would increase the state-wide minimum wage for companies with at least 14 employees from $10.10 to $15 by January 1, 2025, starting with an increase to $11 on January 1, 2020. Smaller business would have until January 1, 2028 to reach $15. Although this ...
On January 15, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, a case concerning the enforceability of arbitration agreements.
Petitioner New Prime Inc. (“New Prime”) is an interstate trucking company that engaged Dominic Oliveira to perform work as a driver pursuant to an “Independent Contractor Operating Agreement,” containing both an arbitration clause and a delegation clause giving the arbitrator authority to decide threshold questions of arbitrability.
Oliveira filed a putative class action against New Prime in federal ...
Our colleagues , Eric I. Emanuelson, Jr. at Epstein Becker Green have a post on the Retail Labor and Employment Law blog that will be of interest to our readers: "Massachusetts “Grand Bargain” Makes Changes to Blue Laws for Retailers."
Following is an excerpt:
A legislative bargain requires give-and-take from all stakeholders. On June 28, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed House Bill 4640, “An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave, and the Sales Tax Holiday” (the “Act”). This ...
In Tze-Kit Mui v. Massachusetts Port Authority, Massachusetts’ highest court held that Massachusetts law does not require employers to pay departing employees for accrued, unused sick time within the timeframe prescribed for “wages,” as the term is defined by the Massachusetts Wage Act.
In reaching its decision, the Court analyzed the plain meaning of “wages” under the Act and concluded that the legislature did not intend that “wages” would include sick time. The decision removes a significant concern for Massachusetts employers who are strictly liable for ...
Following is an excerpt:
In a potentially significant decision following the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling in Hargrove v. Sleepy’s, LLC, 220 N.J. 289 (2015), a New Jersey appellate panel held, in Garden State Fireworks, Inc. v. New Jersey Department of Labor ...
On December 17, 2012, in Crocker v Townsend Oil, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court invalidated a settlement agreement, waiver and release to the extent it purported to release claims under the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws, but did not expressly include that statute by name among the claims being released. Specifically, the Court held:
We...conclude that a settlement or contract termination agreement by an employee that includes a general release, purporting to release all possible existing claims will be enforceable as to the statutorily ...
EBG’s free wage-hour app, which allows users to access federal law and the laws of many states, has been updated to include Massachusetts law.
The app can be dowloaded here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id1320249735
The restaurant and hospitality industries are no strangers to the tidal wave of wage and hour class action lawsuits. Restaurants and hotel operators located in states with employee-friendly laws like Massachusetts, New York, and California, are particularly vulnerable. This vulnerability was recently confirmed on April 30, 2012, when Texas Roadhouse, Inc. agreed to pay $5 million to settle a putative class action suit filed by wait staff employees from nine restaurants in Massachusetts.
In Crenshaw, et. al, v. Texas Roadhouse, Inc. (No ...
- Epstein Becker Green’s Free Wage-Hour App Includes Updates on New 2024 Laws
- Wage War: Massachusetts Trial Court Rejects Globe Ex-President’s Profit-Sharing Claim Disguised as Wage Act Violation
- Time Is Money: A Quick Wage-Hour Tip on … Inclement Weather Pay Obligations
- New Independent Contractor Rule Facing Multiple Legal Challenges
- The Enforceability of Employees’ Electronic Signatures Is the Next Battleground for Arbitration Agreements With Class Action Waivers