Massachusetts’ highest court, The Supreme Judicial Court, recently issued its long awaited decision in Sullivan v. Sleepy’s LLC, SJC-12542, in which the SJC responded to certified questions of first impression from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case is particularly important for businesses which pay employees through commissions or draws (i.e., advances on commissions), particularly in the retail context where the ruling departs considerably from federal law.
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The Department of Labor earlier this month proposed employer-friendly amendments to its rules regarding joint employer liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the DOL proposed the adoption of a four-factor test to assess joint employer status under the FLSA.  The test would consider an employer’s actual exercise of significant control over the terms and conditions of an employee’s work, rather than attenuated control or contractually reserved control that goes unexercised.


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Each year, the California Chamber of Commerce identifies proposed state legislation that the Chamber believes “will decimate economic and job growth in California.”  The Chamber refers to these bills as “Job Killers.” In March, the Chamber identified the first two Job Killers of 2019: AB 51 and SB 1.
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We recently highlighted DOL opinion letter 2018-27, which rescinded the 80/20 rule and was a welcome change for employers in the restaurant industry.  However, less than two months after the DOL’s policy change, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri rejected the DOL’s new guidance, claiming it is “unpersuasive and unworthy” of deference. 
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In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., the U.S. Supreme Court established limitations on personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants in “mass actions,” effectively supporting the view that plaintiffs cannot simply “forum shop” in large class and collective actions and instead must sue where the corporate defendant has significant contacts for purposes of general jurisdiction or limit the class definition to residents of the state where the lawsuit is filed.  Notably, the Supreme Court’s decision was limited to personal jurisdiction issues in state courts, which has led to a split on the question of whether, and to what extent, the Supreme Court’s analysis applies to class and collective actions pending in federal court. 
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In a rare win for plaintiffs seeking to avoid arbitration, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a trucking company’s attempt to compel arbitration in a driver’s proposed minimum wage class action.  The Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act’s exemption for interstate transportation workers applies not only to employees, but also to those classified as independent contractors. 
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The Department of Labor recently published an Opinion Letter (FLSA-2018-27) reissuing its January 16, 2009 guidance (Opinion Letter FLSA-2009-23) and reversing its Obama-era position on the 20% tip credit rule.  This opinion letter marks another major shift in DOL’s policy and presents a welcome change for employers in the restaurant industry.


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