The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has issued proposed regulations which are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2019.

Although some of the proposed regulations may change – and there is a push on by certain business groups to have the start date pushed to October – businesses are well advised to

The SJC, Massachusetts’ highest court, issued its long awaited decision in Sullivan v. Sleepy’s LLC,  SJC-12542 on May 8, 2019. The case should be of concern to businesses which pay individuals fully or primarily by commission, especially in the retail context or in automobile sales where the ruling departs sharply from federal law.

Continue Reading SJC Rules Massachusetts Retail and Inside Salespersons Entitled to Overtime and Sunday Premium Pay

In an opinion letter dated April 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) explained that some service providers working for a virtual marketplace company (VMC) are independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).   This opinion letter identifies the test the DOL is expected to use when considering the classification of workers

For several decades the Massachusetts overtime statute, G.L. c. 151, §1A, required generally that an employee working in excess of forty hours per week be paid “at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.”  The statute included twenty categories of exceptions from this overtime pay requirement.  One such exemption applied to laborers “engaged in agriculture and farming on a farm.” G.L. c. 151 §1A(19).  The SJC has recently held, however, that farm growing and harvesting “does not include post-harvesting activities.”  The case is Arias – Villano v. Chang & Sons Enterprises, Inc., 481 Mass. 625 (2019).  Thus, the laborers in Arias-Villano were entitled to time and a half for the type of work they performed beyond “agricultural and farm” work is excess of forty hours per week.  That is, growing and harvesting does not include “cleaning, sorting, and packaging” of or related to the agricultural product itself.  The workers were entitled to overtime pay for such ancillary duties.

Continue Reading “You Shall Reap More Than You Sow” Under a New Interpretation of the Massachusetts Overtime Statute’s Agricultural Exemption

The Supreme Judicial Court has just recently made it abundantly clear that for liability to hold under the Massachusetts Wage Act, G.L. c. 149, §148, “[t]he work must have been actually performed and wage payments must be presently due to trigger the precise requirements and severe penalties” available under the Act.  The case is Calixto v. Coughlin, 481 Mass. 157 (2018).

Continue Reading “Earned Wages” Not The Equivalent of “Back Pay” Under Massachusetts Wage Act

Photo: OTA Photos via Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

As published in NEHRA News (3/21/2019)

The Massachusetts Wage Act provides that an employee who “prevails” in an action to recover unpaid wages “shall … be awarded the costs of the litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”  This “fee-shifting” provision is an exception to well-established “American Rule” under which each party bears his or her own attorney’s fees, win or lose.  In cases where the employee wins at trial, the application of the Wage Act’s fee-shifting provision is clear: the employee will recover his or her attorney’s fees.  But what happens when the case doesn’t go to trial, and instead, the parties resolve the matter through a negotiated settlement in which both sides compromise?  Has the employee “prevailed” in that situation?  Is he or she entitled to recover attorney’s fees?


Continue Reading Do Employees Recover Attorney’s Fees When A Massachusetts Wage Act Case Resolves Through A Settlement?

A bill recently filed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, if passed, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of height and weight.  The proposed legislation would add height and weight to the list of protected classes covered by the Commonwealth’s antidiscrimination law (G.L. Chapter 151B) and public accommodation laws (G.L. Chapter 272, Sections 92A and 98).

Continue Reading Will Massachusetts Outlaw Discrimination Based on Height and Weight?

On February 1, 2019 the Keene Sentinel reported that a Massachusetts construction company had been hit with more than $64,000 in fines after an audit conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Labor. Although the bulk of the fines were related to the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, there were also a number of recordkeeping violations found.

The Keene Sentinel article devotes significant attention to the problems of trying to classify individuals as independent contractors under NH state law, a very difficult burden to meet. The result of the audit and the fines imposed on the business, however, showcase how difficult it is for businesses who typically do not operate in a state to establish a workforce there and be in compliance with state laws.


Continue Reading Trials of Massachusetts Company Building Keene Hotel Signals Warning to Businesses with Multi-State Workforces

Photo: RichardBH via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing a measure, which, if passed, would make the Big Apple the first place in the nation to require private-sector employers to provide paid vacation to employees.  The details of the plan have not yet been released, but the New York Times is reporting that the law would require private employers with five or more employees to provide at least two weeks of paid vacation.  City Hall officials have estimated that approximately half a million NYC workers would benefit from the new law.


Continue Reading NYC Mayor Proposes Mandatory Paid Vacation for Private-Sector Workers

Photo: Tomas de Aquino via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

With the first recreational marijuana retail shops now opening in locations throughout Massachusetts, one legislator is proposing protections for employees who choose to use the newly-legal drug on their own time.  The Boston Globe is reporting that Jason Lewis, a state senator from Winchester, Massachusetts, is planning on introducing legislation in the new year that, if passed, would prevent most employers from terminating or disciplining employees for off-duty, legal use of marijuana.


Continue Reading Proposed Legislation Would Prevent Employers From Firing Employees For Off-Duty Marijuana Use