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News - 2010

Jan. 2010

Christopher R. O'Hara Quoted about Mass. SJC Independent Contractor Suit in Law 360

Christopher R. O'Hara was quoted in an article concerning an employee classification decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appearing in Law 360

The article discussed the 2009 decision, Somers v. Converged Access, Inc., 454 Mass. 582 (2009), in which the SJC, in a case of first impression, interpreted the Massachusetts Employee Classification/Independent Contractor statute, G.L. c. 149 § 148B to permit an allegedly misclassified employee to seek damages of the value of wages and benefits he should have received as an employee but did not, even in circumstances where the employer can show that the employee would have been paid less if he were hired as an employee in a comparable position.  Mr. O'Hara, commenting on Mass. law that addresses damages for misclassification, noted that the potential for treble damages under applicable, older version of the Mass. Wage Act is a “heavy club that is wielded against the employer.”  Under the current version of the Mass. Wage Act, this is even more so the case because treble damages are now automatically assessed in favor of a prevailing employee.

In addition to interpreting the Employee Classification/Independent Contractor statute, the Supreme Judicial Court's Somers decision affirmed the grant of summary judgment on claims of age discrimination, misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.  The SJC determined that no reasonable fact finder could find that CAI failed to hire the plaintiff in 2004 and 2005 because of his age and that even if the plaintiff had been able to establish a prima facie case, the employer had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for not hiring the plaintiff and the plaintiff failed to establish this reason was pretextual.  Todd & Weld's Christopher R. O'Hara and Matthew J. Fogelman represented the employer (CAI) before the Supreme Judicial Court.  In its 2009 year in review, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly cited the Somers v. Converged Access, Inc. decision as one of the year's most important employment law decisions.