by Andrew Liazos, Heather Egan Sussman and Sabrina Dunlap
Massachusetts Wage Act May Extend to Employees Living and Working Elsewhere — Out-of-State Employees May Sue Officers Personally for Mandatory Triple Damages, Attorneys Fees and Costs
A Massachusetts Superior Court judge recently extended the reach of the Massachusetts Wage Act – including its provisions for officer liability, mandatory triple damages, attorneys fees and costs – to an employee who lives and works in Florida. The judge found that the employee had “sufficient contacts” with Massachusetts during his employment, and was thus entitled to protection of its Wage Act.
In Dow v. Casale, a former sales employee of a small, failed Massachusetts company sued three former executives personally in Massachusetts, alleging they owed him more than $100,000 in commissions he earned prior to the company’s failure. The executives argued that Massachusetts law did not apply because the employee lived and worked in Florida. The court disagreed and held that the Wage Act “was designed to regulate the actions of Massachusetts employers, regardless of where their employees work.”
The judge found the following activities established “more than sufficient contacts” with the Commonwealth to afford the employee the protection of the its Wage Act:
- The salesman conducted his business largely via the internet, which was paid for by the Massachusetts employer
- His business cards listed the company’s Massachusetts address, phone number and fax number
- He had customers in Massachusetts and visited them about 20 times over two years
- He was in daily contact with his supervisor in Massachusetts
- All sales paperwork was generated in Massachusetts
- All customer purchase orders were sent to Massachusetts, invoices were then sent to customers from Massachusetts and customers sent their payments to Massachusetts
In light of this decision, out of state employers may want to consider taking steps to avoid the type of “sufficient contacts” with Massachusetts that might expose them and their officers to unfavorable liabilities and penalties under the Massachusetts Wage Act.