Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court judge granting summary judgment in favor of BSC Companies, Inc., BSC Group, Inc., and the companies' president (collectively, BSC) in this action brought by BSC's former employees alleging claims under the Prevailing Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 26-27H, holding that the contracts at issue were not governed by the Act, and BSC was not required to pay its employees a prevailing wage pursuant to the contracts.At issue were two professional engineering services contracts awarded by the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to BSC. The contracts were not competitively bid and were not awarded to the lowest bidder, unlike contracts for public works construction projects governed by the Act. Further, the contracts did not specify that BSC's employees would be paid at least a prevailing wage determined by the Department of Labor Standards. The superior court judge granted summary judgment to BSC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to a prevailing wage for their work under the professional services contracts. View "Metcalf v. BSC Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's action alleging that defendant Massachusetts Coastal Railroad LLC (MCR) paid him less than the prevailing wage on State public works projects, holding that the trial court did not err.In their motion to dismiss, MCR and its managing officer (together, Defendants), argued that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, 49 U.S.C. 10501 preempted the Prevailing Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 26-27H, and therefore, the Commonwealth was precluded from enforcing the Act. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed and affirmed, holding (1) Defendants failed to show that the Prevailing Wage Act was preempted; and (2) Plaintiff's allegations plausibly suggested a right to relief under the Act. View "Marsh v. Mass. Coastal Railroad LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B claims, holding that tolling does not apply to the time limits established in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, 5, including the requirement that claims be pursued by first filing a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) "within 300 days after the alleged act of discrimination."Approximately one year after his termination, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the MCAD alleging sexual harassment, in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, 4 (16A), and retaliation, in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, 4. Plaintiff later amended his complaint to add his chapter 151B claims. The motion judge granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, reasoning that this Court's emergency orders issued during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic applied only to courts, not the MCAD, and that equitable tolling did not apply. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that tolling did not apply to the time limits in this case. View "Dunn v. Langevin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the decision of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this age discrimination action, holding that Plaintiff produced sufficient evidence to create a dispute of fact regarding whether he was terminated due to discriminatory animus.Plaintiff sued Defendant, his former employer, after he was laid off in a reduction in force. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, determining that Plaintiff could not show that Defendant's stated justification for his termination was pretextual. The appeals court reversed. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case to the superior court for further proceedings, holding that Plaintiff produced evidence from which a jury could find that he was selected for the reduction in force as part of a corporate strategy to lay off older workers. View "Adams v. Schneider Electric USA" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the single justice of the appeals court reversing the denial of Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and vacated the injunction, holding that the single justice abused her discretion in enjoining Defendants from enforcing their December 2021 amended COVID-19 vaccination policy.Plaintiffs - the Boston Firefighters Union, the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, and others - filed a complaint challenging Defendants' unilateral amendment of the COVID-19 vaccination policy for all city of Boston employees, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The superior court denied Plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief, but a single justice of the appeals court reversed and ordered the entry of a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the single justice abused her discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction because the potential harm to the city resulting from the spread of COVID-19 clearly outweighed the economic harm to employees. View "Boston Firefighters Union, Local 718, Internat'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO v. City of Boston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court judge allowing the State police's motion for summary judgment and denying Plaintiff's request for back pay under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 30, 59 (the Perry Law), holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to back pay or other relief under the terms of the Perry Law.Perry Law mandates back pay for a State employee who has been indicted on criminal charges due to job-related misconduct and, consequently, suspended from his position without pay if the charges are subsequently terminated without a finding or verdict of guilty. At issue was whether Plaintiff, who had been suspended from his position without pay pursuant to article 6.2 of the State police rules and regulations, was entitled to back pay under the Perry Law. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) when the colonel of the State police opted to suspend Plaintiff, he had discretion to choose whether to invoke the Perry Law or to proceed under article 6.2, which is unique to the State police; and (2) because the colonel decided to suspend Plaintiff in accordance with article 6.2 Plaintiff was not entitled to relief under the Perry Law. View "Perez v. Dep't of State Police" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the trial judge granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the New England Police Benevolent Association, Inc., Local 192 (NEPBA), denying the city of Chelsea's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and confirming the underlying arbitration award in this labor dispute, holding that the trial court did not err in confirming the arbitration award.After NEPBA replaced another union as the exclusive bargaining representative for the emergency dispatchers in the city, NEPBA sought to arbitrate a grievance regarding an emergency dispatcher's termination following the change in union representation. While the NEPBA and city bargained to a new contract, employees had been working under the city's prior collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the former union. Because the CBA contained an arbitration provision, the arbitrator ruled that the dispute was arbitrable. The superior court confirmed the decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the dispute was arbitrable. View "City of Chelsea v. New England Police Benevolent Ass'n, Local 192" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Plaintiff's petition for a writ of certiorari challenging that municipal court judge's finding that the Boston retirement board did not err in revoking Plaintiff's retirement allowance pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 32, 15(3) and (4), holding that the superior court did not abuse its discretion.Plaintiff, a former corrections officer who was found to be permanently disabled after suffering a work-related injury, was ultimately convicted of workers' compensation fraud and larceny for falsely certifying over a period of seven years that he was not able to work. Thereafter, the board revoked Plaintiff's retirement allowance. The municipal court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the denial of Plaintiff's ensuing petition for a writ of certiorari, holding that the board did not err in determining that the requirements of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 32, 15(3) and (4) were satisfied here. View "Mahan v. Boston Retirement Bd." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the conclusions of the retirement board of Lexington (board), a magistrate in the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, the Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, and the superior court that payments in lieu of vacation time did not constitute regular compensation, holding that there was no error.In 2012, Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission issued guidance to local retirement boards stating that payments for unused vacation time may be considered as regular compensation, and therefore counted for the purpose of calculating a member's retirement benefit, if they met two requirements. Shortly before his retirement, Appellant asked the board whether the payments he had received in lieu of taking vacation time would be considered as regular compensation for the purposes of calculating his retirement allowance. The board answered the question in the negative, and the decision was affirmed on appeal. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that payment in lieu of unused vacation time requiring periodic election by an employee does not qualify as regular compensation. View "O'Leary v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the comprehensive remedial scheme provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., for recovery of damages when an employer violates the federal overtime law, 29 U.S.C. 207, precludes an employee from alternatively pursuing remedies under the wage act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148, for the untimely payment of overtime wages due solely pursuant to the FLSA.Plaintiffs, employees of Defendant, brought this action alleging violations of the FLSA for failure to pay overtime wages, violations of the wage act for failure to pay the FLSA overtime wages in a timely manner, and violations of federal and state minimum wage laws. The motion judge allowed summary judgment as to Defendant's liability under the federal overtime law and wage act. After a trial, the trial judge awarded damages. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) the trial judge's trebling of damages pursuant to the wage act was error; (2) the jury instructions for the calculation of overtime wages under the FLSA contained a methodological error; and (3) Defendant's remaining claims lacked merit. View "Devaney v. Zucchini Gold, LLC" on Justia Law