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Texas Employer Subject To Massachusetts Wage Act

By December 7, 2023 No Comments

Bennett & Belfort is pleased to announce that founding partner, David E. Belfort, was quoted in this week’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “Texas company, CEO must face wage claims in Massachusetts” ” written by Kris Olson and published on December 1, 2023. In the case of Berrey v. Evolve Cellular, Inc. et al, No. 1:2023cv11433, Judge Leo T. Sorokin set aside a Texas choice-of-law provision in an employment agreement due, in part, to the strong connections that the employee had to Massachusetts and because the choice-of-law provision did not specifically reference that it governed statutory rights.

Plaintiff’s Massachusetts wage claims were allowed to remain intact due in large part to his employment’s connection to the Commonwealth – he was hired here and physically worked in Massachusetts even through the company/employer was located in Texas and his agreement included a Texas choice-of-law provision.  Massachusetts was determined to have stronger ties to this case than Texas, and the court rejected Defendants’ forum non conveniens objections as the two locations were seen as equally convenient to the central witnesses: the employee and his supervisor.  Importantly, Judge Sorokin highlighted the important public policy at issue, stating, “the strongest factor is Massachusetts’s ‘fundamental policy interest in enforcing the Massachusetts Wage Act’ to employees working within Massachusetts . . . .”

Mr. Belfort observed that the decision “highlights a trend of Massachusetts courts retaining authority to apply the Wage Act based on evidence of strong job-related connections to the state and a compelling public policy interest in ensuring employees are paid properly.”  He concluded, “An employer who fails to pay wages owed to an employee when there is a strong connection to Massachusetts does so at considerable peril.”