Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Addresses ‘Service Charges’ Under the Massachusetts Tips Act

Massachusetts is seeing an increase in Tips Act claims, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) just reinforced that a lack of clarity in fee- and tip-related documentation may result in employer liability, including mandatory treble damages and attorneys’ fees. The Massachusetts Tips Act requires that an employer or person who collects “service charges” or “tips” (as those terms are defined under the act) remit the proceeds of those charges to service employees and waitstaff in proportion to the services the employees provided to the employer.

Massachusetts Appeals Court Reinforces Narrow Interpretation of Public Policy Exception to At-Will Employment

On January 20, 2021, an expanded five-judge panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued its opinion in Terence Meehan v. Medical Information Technology, Inc., No. 19-P-1412, and affirmed a lower court decision granting the employer’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s wrongful discharge in violation of public policy claim.

The New Retail and Service Exemption: DOL Revokes Outdated Lists

Effective with the May 19, 2020, publication in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division revokes the arbitrary lists it created in 1961 identifying industries that may, or would not, qualify as retail or service in nature “for purposes of an exemption from overtime pay applicable to commission-based employees.”

Massachusetts Nonsolicitation Case Highlights Importance of Choice-of-Law Provisions

Many employers have national and international workforces. When entering into contracts with employees, inclusion of a choice-of-law provision is important for determining what jurisdiction’s laws will apply if one of the parties breaches the agreement. While Massachusetts generally honors contracting parties’ choice as to which law will govern their relationship, there are exceptions to that general rule. In NuVasive, Inc. v. Day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit enforced a Delaware choice of law provision against a Massachusetts employee and rejected his arguments that one of Massachusetts’s recognized exceptions should apply.

State-Law Ramifications of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis: Massachusetts and Rhode Island as Case Studies

In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the requirement in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that an employee file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before commencing an action in court is not jurisdictional.

Taking Vacation While on Medical Leave: Massachusetts Court Rules on Liquidated Damages Under the FMLA

On June 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a decision emphasizing that an employer’s well-designed and thorough internal investigations made prior to a termination decision can provide a strong defense to claims, but less carefully conducted investigations do not.

Massachusetts High Court Addresses Investors’ and Boards of Directors’ Liability Under the Wage Act

Investors and members of boards of directors concerned about liability under the Massachusetts Wage Act, M.G.L. c. 149, § 148, can breathe a little easier after the Supreme Judicial Court’s (SJC) decision in Segal v. Genitrix, LLC, No. SJC-12291 (December 28, 2017). In Segal, the SJC refused to hold investors and individual directors individually liable for a company’s failure to pay wages to an employee because they were not empowered to act as “agents having the management” of the company.