The B&B Docket Blog:

Developments in the Dynamic World

of Business and Employment Law

Season Ticket Holder Sacked by Patriots’ Enforcement of Contractual Obligation in Ticket License Agreement

If you sign a contract in Massachusetts, the New England Patriots may be largely responsible for the enforceability of certain damages provisions set forth in the agreement, known as a “liquidated damages clause.” Liquidated damages clauses are designed to represent a reasonable forecast of damages expected to occur in the event of a breach, particularly where actual damages are difficult…

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Court Narrows Homeowners’ Ability to Obtain Relief Under Home Improvement Contractor Statute

Due to a recent shift in the judicial interpretation of the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor law, M.G.L. c. 142A (“the Act”), homeowners will no longer be able to recover triple damages and attorney’s fees for mere technical violations of the Act by a contractor, where those technical violations do not cause harm to the homeowner. The Act was designed to…

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MCAD Guidelines Are Not Laws, Rules Supreme Judicial Court

In a decision issued late last year, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that guidelines issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) do not have the force of law.  Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus, 457 Mass. 489 (2010). The Guidelines have widely been used by attorneys, workers, and employers to understand the scope and meaning of laws enforced by…

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FAILURE TO MAKE SEVERANCE PAYMENTS VIOLATES THE MASSACHUSETTS PAYMENT OF WAGES ACT

For the first time in a Massachusetts reported decision, Worcester Superior Court Judge, Dennis J. Curran, included severance pay in the definition of “wages” for purposes of the Massachusetts Payment of Wages Act (“the Act”).  In Juergens v. MicroGroup, Inc., an employee sought to enforce a severance agreement, successfully arguing that his severance pay qualified as “wages,” which would entitle…

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EMPLOYER MAY NOT DEDUCT ACCIDENT COSTS FROM WORKERS’ PAY

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held that an employer could not make deductions from employees’ wages to recover the costs associated with ‘preventable accidents’ caused by employees.  In this case, Camara v. Attorney General, the employer had a policy that gave employees, waste and recycling truck drivers,  an option of either accepting disciplinary action or agreeing to a wage…

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Drafter Beware – Employment Handbooks as Binding Contracts. Part 3 of 3: ’Warning! This Policy Manual Is Not a Contract’: Is a disclaimer enough?

Employer’s frequently include disclaimer language in their employment manuals in an effort to thwart efforts to characterize their policies as contracts.  This is done by management in order to avoid extending additional rights and avenues of relief to disgruntled employees. In O’Brien v. New England Telephone Co. the SJC found that a policy manual was an implied contract but that…

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Drafter Beware – Employment Handbooks as Binding Contracts, Part 2 of 3: “Competing Considerations in Massachusetts Case Law”

There is much debate, especially in the courts, as to whether an employment policy manual is enforceable as a contract.  The Massachusetts Appeals Court commented in Ferguson v. Host International, 53 Mass. App. Ct. 96, 103 (2001), that “[i]t would be unfair to allow an employer to distribute a policy manual that make the workforce believe that certain promises have…

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