A judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has denied a motion to dismiss Massachusetts law claims brought by a B&B client whose work straddled several states.
The plaintiff was a successful account executive who brought suit after his employer failed to pay him substantial earned commissions. Ultimately, the company terminated the plaintiff because of his age and to avoid paying him even more commission stemming from his very successful sales efforts. The company moved to dismiss Massachusetts law claims, alleging among other things, that the plaintiff’s residence in Virginia rendered Massachusetts law inapplicable. The plaintiff is represented by Michaela May and Todd Bennett.
In the context of the employee’s claims under the Commonwealth’s anti-discrimination law, G.L. c. 151B (Chapter 151B), Judge Indira Talwani noted that, where the illegal conduct took place at least in part in Massachusetts, Chapter 151B applies. Because the decisionmakers worked in Massachusetts and the unlawful discrimination is alleged to have occurred here, Chapter 151B is implicated.
Turning to the employee’s Wage Act claim, the Court found that the plaintiff’s complaint contained sufficient facts connecting his employment to Massachusetts for his claim to proceed. This is significant because Massachusetts law provides for mandatory treble damages on wage claims, including those involving commissions. The question, to be determined as the case proceeds, will be which state has the most significant relationship to the plaintiff’s employment. As Judge Talwani explained, “there is no requirement that [an employee] reside or work in Massachusetts to be afforded the Wage Act’s protections—only that Massachusetts has the most significant relationship with his employment . . . .”
A copy of the decision can be found here.