Massachusetts SJC: Employers Are Strictly Liable for Treble Damages for Late, Pre-Suit Wage Payments

On April 4, 2022, in Reuter v. City of Methuen, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held that employers are strictly liable for treble damages for making late wage payments, even when an employee has not yet filed suit asserting a wage claim. In so holding, the SJC rejected an often-cited trial court decision, Dobin v. CIOview Corp., that employers had long relied upon to correct pre-suit late wage payments by paying unpaid amounts in full, with trebled interest.

First Circuit Upholds Federal Preemption of Massachusetts Wage Act Claims

On June 10, 2021, the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a plaintiff’s lawsuit alleging, among other things, failure to pay wages under the Massachusetts Wage Act. In Rose v. RTN Federal Credit Union, the First Circuit held that the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) preempted the plaintiff’s wage claims because she was a member of a union and because her employer, RTN Federal Credit Union, had an existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the union that governed her wages and overtime pay.

Party of One: Collective Action Against Outback Steakhouse Denied due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied conditional class action certification in a case involving a front of house (FOH) manager suing Outback Steakhouse for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court applied the Supreme Court of the United States’ reasoning in its 2017 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, which involved a class action in California state court by a purported class of more than 600 plaintiffs, most of whom were not California residents.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Finds That Commissioned Salespeople Must Be Paid Overtime

On May 8, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a unanimous opinion holding that salespeople who are paid solely on draws and commissions are entitled to separate and additional overtime and Sunday pay under Massachusetts law. The decision has far-reaching implications for most retailers, which have long relied on opinion letters from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) suggesting that commissioned employees are not entitled to such additional compensation.

Massachusetts Passes Noncompete Reform Legislation

The Massachusetts Legislature has passed legislation governing the use of noncompetition agreements in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the legislation into law by August 10, 2018.  Assuming that occurs, the law will codify existing Massachusetts case law to some degree, and it also will go much further in regulating the enforceability of noncompetition agreements, including limiting who may be subject to such agreements.