Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey released her fourth annual Labor Day Report this week. As in past years, the report summarizes the AGO’s Fair Labor Division’s enforcement activities over the past year, and provides insight into the office’s priorities and initiatives in the enforcement of the Commonwealth’s wage and hour laws.
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).
Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued an Opinion Letter in which it stated that an employer may not delay the designation of leave qualifying under the Family and Medical Leave Act, even if the affected employee would prefer not to take FMLA leave, and employers may not designate more than 12 weeks of leave as FMLA leave.…
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor released its long-awaited updated overtime rule proposal. Under the proposed rule, the minimum salary level at which an employee can be exempted from federal overtime and minimum wage requirements (assuming other criteria are met) would increase from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually). If enacted, more than a million more workers would become eligible for overtime under the proposed rule.
In a highly technical, twenty-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court declined to answer the question of whether volunteer members of boards of directors of nonprofits can be held personally liable to workers for unpaid wages under the Massachusetts Wage Act. With the issue unresolved, for the time being, volunteer board members will continue to face some uncertainty about their possible personal liability.
The case, Lynch v. Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, Inc., No. 18-P-179 (Nov. 30, 2018) involved a nonprofit that was struggling financially. The chair of the nonprofit’s volunteer board of directors—who was also holding himself out as the organization’s “president” and “acting CEO”—decided to use the entity’s limited funds to pay vendors instead of paying wages. Employees brought a class action lawsuit under the Massachusetts Wage Act, seeking recovery from the nonprofit, as well as from the board chair individually. Under the Massachusetts Wage Act, the president and treasurer of a business entity, and any officers or agents managing the entity, can be held personally liable for the entity’s failure to pay wages. The board chair sought to have the case against him dismissed on grounds that he was immune under state and federal laws protecting volunteers.…
In July 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed the BRAVE Act, a wide-ranging piece of legislation including a number of provisions aimed at increasing the support and services available to veterans and their families. Among other things, the act provides increased tax relief and access to educational programs and other resources to veterans. The BRAVE Act also updates state law with regard to the time off provided to veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
For those who thought the Trump DOL would back off the increased enforcement efforts of the Obama administration, last week’s news was not all good. The U.S. Department of Labor just announced that the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recovered a record $304 million in wages owed to workers in Fiscal Year 2018. WHD also set a new record for compliance assistance events in FY 2018, holding 3,643 outreach events – including on the ground presentations and trainings – targeted to educate employers about their legal responsibilities regarding payment of wages.
Perusing LinkedIn, as I often do over morning coffee, I saw this plea on one of the human resources groups I follow. Not having the time to read it carefully, I put it aside in my “fodder for future blog posts” folder. Like most of the people who responded quickly with advice for the human resource professional who sought help from her colleagues, my first thought was “big red flag.” How can a company operate with all leaders and no workers, with all executives and no support staff? The reality is that very few businesses of any size can realistically classify all of its workers as exempt.
It took barely 24 hours before what is believed to be the first lawsuit under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”) to be filed. On Monday morning, July 2, suit was filed on behalf of Elizabeth Rowe, principal flautist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in Suffolk County Superior Court. Rowe was hired for the role by the BSO in 2004, and the lawsuit claims that she has asked for years to be paid the same as the principal oboe player, a male. She alleges that the role of principal oboe is the one most comparable to her position and that paying her some $70,000 less per year amounts to a violation of MEPA.
A bill just passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate, with uncharacteristic speed and bipartisan support, has been touted as a “grand bargain,” meant to circumvent political wrangling over several contentious ballot questions slated to be put before the voters this fall. The wide-ranging bill establishes paid family and medical leave, raises the minimum wage, and eliminates premium Sunday pay, among other things. The bill now goes to Governor Baker, who is expected to sign the measure into law.…