Employees (characterized as independent contractors or not) seem to be enjoying support in the Massachusetts Courts.

Sometimes Court rulings reveal trends in social concerns, particularly concerns about perceived unfairness. There have been lots of reported cases in Massachusetts recently involving the law on wages and independent contractors.  Here are eight that all support the employee’s side of the argument.

Managers of a limited liability company (LLC) may be held individually liable under the Massachusetts Wage Act, for unpaid wages due to an employee

Cook v. Patient Edu, LLC, Mass: Supreme Judicial Court 2013

Treble damages provision applied to commissions “determined and due.”

Weber v. Coast to Coast Medical, Inc., 83 Mass. App. Ct. 478 – Mass: Appeals Court 2013

Wage act “commands” that employers pay wages regularly and on time and prohibits retaliation for assertion of these rights.  Slow paying expense reimbursements gets court scrutiny.  Individuals can be personally liable.

Fraelick v PerkettPR Inc. 83 Mass. App. CT. 698 (2013)

Although Wage Act claims may be released retrospectively as part of a settlement agreement, such a release is valid only if it is voluntary and knowing, and, more specifically, absent express language that Wage Act claims are being released, a general release is ineffective to waive them.

Crocker v. Townsend Oil Company, Inc., 464 Mass. 1 – Mass: Supreme Judicial Court 2012

Assuming the claimant was working as an employee, [and not as an independent contractor], no contractual arrangement is enforceable if it provides a means for an employer to escape its obligations as an employer, to pay lawful wages under the wage statute.

Depianti V. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., Mass: Supreme Judicial Court 2013

Class action for janitors who claimed they were employees not independent contractors sent to arbitration.  Attempts to erase right to triple damages was unenforceable.

Machado v System 4 LLC 465 Mass 508 (2013) Supreme Judicial Court 2013

Massachusetts independent contractor statute applies to work performed outside of Massachusetts by non-Massachusetts residents if there is a contract with a Massachusetts corporation.

Taylor v. Eastern Connection Operating, Inc., Mass: Supreme Judicial Court 2013

The important thing for employers to know – Wage Act claims are strictly enforced -as well they should be. Get advice on following the complicated rules if you have questions.