Dinsmore Stark Files Class Action Wage Complaint

On October 3, 2017, Raymond Dinsmore of Dinsmore Stark, Attorneys At Law, filed a six-count Class Action complaint against Mardi Gras Entertainment, Inc., a company that owns and operates four strip clubs in Western Massachusetts.  The complaint alleges that Mardi Gras  unlawfully required its entertainers to pay a fee to management totaling $35.00 – $100.00 per shift as a purported “locker rental fee” and, in so doing, violated state laws governing payment of minimum wages and tips.  The complaint alleges that Mardi Gras’s “locker rental fee” is a disguised “fee to work” prohibited by state law.  It is believed that at least five hundred entertainers were affected by Mardi Gras’s pay practices.

Read Dan Glaun’s article about the lawsuit on MassLive!

Trump Department of Labor Announces Change in Tipping Regulations

President Trump’s Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced a plan to change Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations to allow restaurants to require that servers share tips with so-called “back of the house” workers including cooks and kitchen staff. Opponents to the proposed change believe that the new rule would allow employers to shift the cost of doing business – i.e. pay back of the house workers a fair wage – from the employer to its service workers.

Under current regulations, servers cannot be forced to share tips with non-service workers, although they may be required to pool tips with other service workers in qualifying circumstances. Furthermore, under Massachusetts law, an employee whose employer violates the tips statute may be entitled to three times his or her lost wages plus attorney’s fees.

What can my employer properly deduct from my paycheck?

In Massachusetts, the answer is “not much.” In addition to ordinary payroll deductions for state and federal tax, social security, unemployment insurance and the like, employers may also make the following deductions:

  • Union dues;
  • Health insurance premiums (if authorized by employee);
  • Garnishment or support order;
  • Lodging and meal deductions (subject to strict limitations);
  • Repayment of undisputed loan or advance from employer;
  • Repayment for employee theft when such theft is proved by an independent and unbiased proceeding;
  • When the employer has obtained a judgment against an employee for the value of the employee’s property.

Employers violate the Massachusetts Wage Act when deductions are made for other purposes. For example, employers violate the law when making deductions for “fines” imposed against employees in lieu of discipline, or requiring an employee to assume the cost of paying for his or her uniform without reimbursement. Employers may not make deductions for ordinary business expenses, thereby shifting the cost of business to its employees. Such deductions might include the cost of tools, gas, equipment and cleaning supplies.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Signed Into Law

A new Massachusetts law offers enhanced workplace protections for pregnant women and new mothers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was unanimously approved by the legislature and signed into law on July 27, 2017, prohibits employers from taking “adverse action” action against an employee because of her pregnancy. Prohibitions include denying employment, terminating employment or reducing pay based on an employee’s pregnancy. The law, which goes into effect April 1, 2018, also requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” to pregnant workers and new mothers which could include: more frequent breaks, time off, assistance with manual labor and private nursing space.


Dinsmore Stark Prevails in Class Action “Wage Theft” Litigation

Attorneys Raymond Dinsmore of Dinsmore Stark, Attorneys at Law and Richard Hayber of Hayber Law Firm, LLC defeated an employer’s motion for summary judgment in a wage theft case brought about by an employer’s failure to pay its employees their accrued but unused vacation pay upon separation. The complaint brought by a former employee of telecommunications company Decisive Communications, Inc. on behalf of himself and his co-workers vindicates the rights of workers to receive the cash value of their unused vacation time upon conclusion of employment. The court rejected the employer’s argument that its former employees forfeited their right to payout of vacation time because the obligation to pay had been transferred to some of the employees’ new employer.

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