Penalties for Delayed Payment to Involuntarily Terminated Employees

Massachusetts employers can be liable for treble wages and benefits for any delay in paying terminated employees their final pay. In Reuter v. City of Methuen, No. SJC-13121 (Mass. Apr. 4, 2022), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruled that an employer who fails to make a final payment of earned wages and other benefits to an involuntarily terminated employee on their last day, as required by the Massachusetts Wage Act, must pay three times the amount of wages and benefits owed.

he ruling is a significant departure from how Massachusetts courts previously interpreted that requirement. Previously, relying on lower court rulings, many, if not most, Massachusetts employers believed that an employer making a late final payment would be on the hook for only three times the interest on the late-paid wages, not triple the wages and benefits. Many employers also believed they had a defense to treble damages if they paid the earned wages and benefits before the employee filed a complaint in court. The Reuter decision changes these long-held beliefs dramatically.

A three-week paycheck delay, then a lawsuit.

In Reuter, the city of Methuen terminated an employee after she was convicted of larceny in 2013. At the time she was fired, she had accrued $8,952.15 in unused vacation time. The city paid her that amount three weeks later. Then, one year later, the employee’s attorney sent a demand for $23,872.40: triple the amount of late vacation pay, plus attorneys’ fees, minus the amount already paid. In response, the city paid $185.42: triple the interest accrued at 12 percent for the three weeks the city delayed paying the accrued vacation pay.

The employee sued to recover triple the amount of late wages.

Court awards fired employee triple the amount of her late wages.

The trial judge held the employee was only entitled to treble the interest, accrued at 12 percent, for the three-week delay in receiving her vacation pay, plus attorneys’ fees. The defendant appealed the award of attorneys’ fees and the employee cross-appealed, again seeking triple the amount of late wages and benefits. The SJC transferred the appeal on its own motion.

The SJC ultimately remanded the case to the Superior Court, requiring the court to award the employee treble wages. On remand, the Superior Court must also award the employee’s attorneys’ fees.

The Reuter decision provides guidance to employers.

In reaching this decision, the SJC relied heavily on the rationale that a terminated employee lacks advance warning of the end of their employment. The legislature intended such employees to be paid in full on their last day to minimize disruption in their ability to maintain their standard of living.

The SJC recognized that its decision in Reuter puts employers in a challenging position when terminating an employee suddenly, such as for illegal or other misconduct, since the amount owed to them might not be readily apparent. In these instances, the SJC proposed that short-term suspension might be necessary instead of immediate termination: “[t]his may mean that employees who, like the plaintiff, have engaged in illegal or otherwise harmful conduct may have to be suspended rather than terminated for a short period of time until the employer can comply with § 148.”

Finally, note that the impact of this ruling also extends to employers’ final pay obligations for employees who voluntarily terminate their employment. In the case of voluntary terminations, the Massachusetts Wage Act requires that employees be paid their final pay no later than at the time of the employer’s next scheduled payroll. Employers who fail to pay those employees all owed wages by that time face potential damages for treble the amount of the final pay.

If you have any questions about the Massachusetts Wage Act, or need assistance with an employee termination or other workforce restructuring, Beck Reed Riden LLP’s employment attorneys are available to assist.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

 

 

U.S. News Includes Beck Reed Riden LLP in 2022 Best Law Firms Ranking

Beck Reed Riden LLP has again received national recognition in U.S News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms” publication for 2022.

For the fourth time, Beck Reed Riden LLP received a national ranking in addition to several regional rankings. Specifically, U.S. News & World Report designated Beck Reed Riden LLP as a Tier 3 firm nationally in the category of Litigation – Labor & Employment.

The complete list of Beck Reed Riden LLP’s rankings is as follows:

National rankings:

Tier 3 in Litigation – Labor & Employment

Regional rankings: Boston

Tier 1 in Commercial Litigation
Tier 1 in Employment Law – Management
Tier 1 in Litigation – Labor & Employment

The 2022 rankings are based on peer reviews and client input. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America.

Russell Beck was named Boston’s Lawyer of the Year in Litigation – Labor and Employment. Nicole Daly, Stephen Riden, and Bob Shea were also selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022. In addition, Hannah Joseph was included in the inaugural edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.

Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity. The “Best Law Firms” rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

Best Lawyers® and The Best Lawyers in America® are registered trademarks of BL Rankings, LLC d/b/a Best Lawyers and Co., LLC.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Attorneys Named Super Lawyers

Russell Beck, Stephen Riden, Bob Shea, and Nicole Gage have been recognized as Super Lawyers by the 2021 issue of Massachusetts Super Lawyers Magazine. In addition, Nicole Daly, Hannah Joseph, Jillian Carson, and Kyle Vieira have been recognized as Rising Stars by the Magazine.

Super Lawyers Magazine has selected Russell Beck as one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts for 2021.

Stephen Riden and Bob Shea were selected as two of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts.

The title of Super Lawyer is given to 5% of the lawyers in the Commonwealth while the Rising Star designation recognizes 2.5% of lawyers under 40.  The Super Lawyers selection process is described in detail here.

Beck Reed Riden LLPis Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Attorneys Named to 2022 Best Lawyers in America List

Beck Reed Riden LLP is pleased to announce that four of its lawyers have been named to the 2022 Edition of Best Lawyers, and one of its lawyers was included in Best Lawyers: Ones to WatchIn addition, Russell Beck was named Lawyer of the Year in the category of LitigationLabor and Employment.

Russell Beck, Stephen Riden, Nicole Daly, and Bob Shea were named to the 2022 Best Lawyers in America list in the following categories:

  • Russell Beck, Commercial Litigation, Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment, and Trade Secrets Law
  • Steve RidenCommercial Litigation
  • Nicole DalyEmployment Law – Management, and Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Bob Shea, Employment Law – Management

In addition, Hannah Joseph was included in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Labor and Employment Law – Management, and Litigation – Intellectual Property.

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.

Best Lawyers Award BadgeLawyers on the Best Lawyers in America ® list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. For the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®, more than 10.8 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 66,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

The Legal 500 Recommends Beck Reed Riden LLP

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law FirmsBeck Reed Riden LLP has been recognized by The Legal 500 United States 2021, an analysis of law firms based on surveys and client interviews. The firm has been recommended in the category of “Trade secrets (litigation and non-contentious matters).”

Only 37 law firms in the United States are named. And Beck Reed Riden LLP is the only small firm included on this list.

Russell Beck was recognized as a Leading Lawyer for trade secrets attorneys in the U.S.

The following is the independent editorial write up from The Legal 500 on the firm’s ranking:

Boutique firm Beck Reed Riden LLP boasts a breadth of expertise in trade secrets and restrictive covenants, with particular specialisms in trade secret protection, business litigation and employment matters. The firm is also known for counseling on company-wide trade secrets protection and employee movements. The team has helped to shape federal and state legislation in the area, advising federal legislators, state legislators and administrations at the federal and state levels. Russell Beck leads the practice from the firm’s Boston office and provides contentious and non-contentious trade secrets advice across the US.

Leading Lawyer and practice head: Russell Beck

Other key lawyers: Stephen Riden; Nicole Corvini Daly; Hannah Joseph

Testimonials

“The team is very user friendly and up to date on the latest legal developments. They bring an informed and practical approach to problem solving.”

“Russell Beck – a standout in developing and arriving at knowledgeable solutions to non-compete and trade secret issues. Exercises good judgment and very user friendly.”

‘Nicole Daly – a pleasure to deal with on wrongful termination issues and contract drafting.’

“Steve Riden – brings experience and the ability to give practical guidance.”

“Hannah Joseph- a talented lawyer to watch and a tenacious litigator.”

Key clients

    • Staples, Inc.
    • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
    • Intellia Therapeutics, Inc.
    • Blue-Grace Logistics LLC
    • Syneos Health
    • Ideal Image, Inc.
    • UG2 LLC
    • Bottomline Technologies, Inc.
    • Bay Equity LLC
    • Alegeus Technologies, LLC

Work highlights

    • Counselling Staples on questions concerning the protection of company trade secrets and related issues in connection with, among other things, employee hires and departures.
    • Providing day-to-day counselling to Novartis on questions concerning the protection of company trade secrets and related issues in connection with, among other things, employee hires and departures.
    • Represented Syneos Health in three separate lawsuits (in three different jurisdictions) stemming from a mass defection of employees and the theft of company clients, trade secrets, and other confidential information.

The Legal 500 US provides impartial, third-party opinions on leading lawyers and law firms across the country. The Legal 500 relies upon a sophisticated methodology to determine which firms and attorneys are included in its list.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Attorneys Named Super Lawyers

Russell Beck, Stephen ReedStephen Riden, and Bob Shea have been recognized as Super Lawyers by the 2020 issue of Massachusetts Super Lawyers Magazine. In addition, Nicole Daly, Hannah Joseph, and Jillian Carson have been recognized as Rising Stars by the Magazine.

Super Lawyers Magazine has selected Russell Beck as one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts for 2020.

Stephen Reed and Stephen Riden were selected as two of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts.

The title of Super Lawyer is given to 5% of the lawyers in the Commonwealth while the Rising Star designation recognizes 2.5% of lawyers under 40.  The Super Lawyers selection process is described in detail here.

Beck Reed Riden LLPis Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Attorneys Named to 2021 Best Lawyers in America List

Beck Reed Riden LLP is pleased to announce that five of its lawyers have been named to the 2021 Edition of Best Lawyers, and one of its lawyers was included in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.

Russell Beck, Stephen Reed, Stephen Riden, Nicole Daly, and Bob Shea were named to the 2021 Best Lawyers in America list in the following categories:

  • Russell Beck, Commercial Litigation, Employment Law – Management, and Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Steve ReedCommercial Litigation, Employment Law – Management, and Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Steve RidenCommercial Litigation
  • Nicole DalyEmployment Law – Management, and Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Bob Shea, Employment Law – Management

In addition, Hannah Joseph was included in the inaugural edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Labor and Employment Law – Management, and Litigation – Intellectual Property.

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.

Best Lawyers Award BadgeLawyers on the Best Lawyers in America © list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. For the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, 9.4 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in the inclusion of more than 67,000 lawyers, or approximately 5% of lawyers in private practice in the United States.

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legaland business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Attorneys Named Super Lawyers

Russell Beck, Stephen ReedStephen Riden, and Barry Guryan have been recognized as Super Lawyers by the 2019 issue of Massachusetts Super Lawyers Magazine. In addition, Nicole Daly and Hannah Joseph have been recognized as Rising Stars by the Magazine.

Super Lawyers Magazine has also selected Russell Beck and Stephen Riden as two of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts and two of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England for 2019.

The title of Super Lawyer is given to 5% of the lawyers in the Commonwealth while the Rising Star designation recognizes 2.5% of lawyers under 40.  The Super Lawyers selection process is described in detail here.

 

Beck Reed Riden LLPis Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Attorneys Named to 2020 Best Lawyers in America List

Beck Reed Riden LLP is pleased to announce that four of its lawyers have been named to the 2020 Edition of Best Lawyers.

Russell Beck, Stephen Reed, Stephen Riden, and Nicole Daly were named to the 2020 Best Lawyers in America list in the following categories:

  • Russell BeckCommercial Litigation
  • Steve ReedCommercial Litigation, Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Steve RidenCommercial Litigation
  • Nicole Daly, Employment Law – Management

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.

Best Lawyers Award BadgeLawyers on the Best Lawyers in America © list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. For the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, 8.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in the inclusion of more than 62,000 lawyers, or approximately 5% of lawyers in private practice in the United States.

Beck Reed Riden LLPis Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Concise Guide to Maintaining an Employee’s Personnel Record

The Massachusetts personnel records law, M.G.L. chapter 149, § 52C, is lengthy and quite dense, and it leaves most who read it confused as to what must and should be included in (or excluded from) an employee’s personnel record.

It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all solution to cover every possible personnel-record-related scenario that might arise. But the list below is designed as a concise tool to assist employers and human resources professionals in making the necessary day-to-day determinations about what information to maintain in an employee’s personnel file.

For any questions regarding this list or other employment-related issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Personnel Files: What to Include and Exclude

Include:

  • Basic Employee Information (name, address, phone number, emergency contact)
  • Employment/Orientation Records
    • Resume and/or Job Application
    • Offer of Employment
    • Job Title and Description
    • Handbook Acknowledgement
    • Consent Forms for Background Check and/or Drug Testing
  • Employee Contracts/Agreements (g., noncompete agreement, non-disclosure agreement)
  • Performance Records
    • Performance Evaluations
    • Self-Evaluations of Performance
    • Disciplinary Warnings
    • Performance Improvement Plans
    • Notes on Oral Performance Counselings
    • Information that Has Been or May Be Used to Negatively Affect the Employee’s Job
  • Training Records
    • Harassment Training Acknowledgment
    • Records of Other Job-Related Training
  • Compensation Records
    • Rates of Pay, Salary, or Commission
    • Other Compensation Paid (g., bonuses)
  • Termination Records
    • Termination Notice
    • Resignation Letter
    • Documentation of Involuntary Termination
    • Exit Interview
    • Separation Agreement
    • Confirmation of Payment of Wages on Separation Date (for Involuntary Terminations)
    • Documents Regarding any Claim for Unemployment Benefits

Exclude and Store Separately:

  • I-9 Forms and Copies of Identification
  • Background Test Results
  • Drug Test Results
  • Medical Records Information (including FMLA certifications, requests for reasonable accommodation for a disability)
  • Payroll Records Containing Social Security Numbers, Banking Information, or Other Confidential Information (g., IRS Form W-4, direct deposit forms, wage garnishment)
  • Workplace Complaints
  • Materials Related to Workplace Investigations
  • Personal Information About Other Employees

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

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