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Tidbits

Published by on December 14, 2009

Our latest tidbits focus on wage and hour issues.  More after the break. Law.com reports here that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Amazon relating to their alleged practice of rounding employee time in a manner unfavorable to their employees. Law.com also reports here that a UPS Supply Chain Solutions overtime suit in […]

Our latest tidbits focus on wage and hour issues.  More after the break.

Law.com reports here that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Amazon relating to their alleged practice of rounding employee time in a manner unfavorable to their employees.

Law.com also reports here that a UPS Supply Chain Solutions overtime suit in California settles for $12.8 million.  The suit had alleged misclassification of drivers as independent contractors.

New York Increases Penalties for Employers Who Retaliate —  New York recently amended its labor laws to increase the penalties for retaliating against employees who report or complain about labor law violations.  Under the new law, which went into effect in November, the minimum civil penalty for an employer who engages in retaliation increased from $200 to $1000.  The maximum penalty increased from $2000 to $10,000.  Employers may also be liable for lost compensation.  The law gives the State Department of Labor the power to sue for unpaid wages and liquidated damages on behalf of employees who are fired for reporting violations.  The law also makes officers and agents of limited liability companies and partnerships liable for retaliation.  Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the law shifts the burden to the employer to prove that it had did not act willfully when an employee seeks liquidated damages for unpaid wages.  A copy of the new law can be found here.

Massachusetts High Court Increases Damages for Misclassified Workers —  In Somers v. CAI, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that employees who have been misclassified as independent contractors are entitled to receive wages and benefits at the rate they were earning as independent contractors.  In this case, the plaintiff had been hired as an independent contractor for CAI.  After his contract ended, he sued the company alleging he had been misclassified, among other things.  The lower court granted summary judgment in CAI’s favor, and the plaintiff appealed.  On appeal, CAI argued that even if Somers had been misclassified, he did not suffer any damages because he earned more as a contractor than if he had been an employee.  The supreme court rejected this argument, stating that Somers was CAI’s employee (unless CAI could prove at trial that he was an independent contractor), and so the hourly wage he was earning as a contractor was actually his wage as an employee.  Therefore, that same wage must be used to calculate any overtime, holiday/vacation pay, and other benefits Somers would have received if he had been properly classified.  The court also held that if Somers prevailed at trial, he would be entitled to treble damages for lost wages and other benefits.  A copy of the court’s opinion can be found here.

MSNBC — “Recession adds fuel to workplace gossip:  The recession not only ushered in unprecedented job cuts and economic pain but also seems to have opened the door to more whispers around the water cooler.”

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