It can be very stressful to get notice that someone is pursuing a claim against you in an automobile accident case. There are several important things you should consider when that happens. First and foremost, be sure that you have reported the accident to your auto insurer. If you are a Massachusetts or Rhode Island resident, your insurance carrier has a duty to appoint an attorney to represent you in an actual lawsuit providing you have properly reported your accident.
Another important consideration is how much insurance coverage you have. If you do not have adequate coverage, your personal assets can be at risk. In that type of situation, it may make a lot of sense to retain counsel independent of the attorney appointed by your insurance carrier. That is because there is a conflict of interest between you and the insurance carrier – they are concerned with minimizing their loss on the case, not with protecting you.
The answer is, probably not. Massachusetts law defines when an employee can be paid as an independent contractor, and when he or she must be paid as an employee. See G.L. c. 149 §148B. If you work under the direct supervision and control of your boss, in the same line of business that your boss performs, you are likely required to be paid as an employee.
For example, if you were hired as a plumber, go where and when your boss tells you to go, and your boss is a plumber, then you are likely an employee and not an independent contractor. In that case, your boss cannot pay you as an independent contractor. If he does, he is likely in violation of Massachusetts law.
When an employer wrongfully pays an employee as an independent contractor, it is called employee misclassification, and it can entitle the wronged employee to significant damages. Often times, an employee can recover two or three times his damages and attorneys fees. If you feel you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, you should contact me immediately. If you are an employer and have questions about employee classification, you should contact me to ensure you are in compliance and avoid a costly mistake.
If you are an employee working in a managerial, administrative, or professional position, you likely know two things: 1) your employer can pay you a salary, and 2) when you earn a salary, you don’t get paid for overtime. What you may not know is that the Department of Labor sets a minimum salary that an employer must pay in order to avoid having to pay you overtime. Currently, that minimum is only $23,660 annually. See 29 CFR Part 541. However, Department of Labor just increased that minimum to $47,476, effective December 1, 2016. See Department of Labor’s Summary of the Final Rule.
What this means is that formerly salaried employees earning less than $47,476 will have to be paid hourly and be entitled to overtime as of December 1, 2016. For many employees, including low-level managers at fast food chains, retail stores, and restaurants, this change should translate into a tremendous pay boost. For employers, this new rule could be a huge headache.
If you are an employee and believe that you are being unfairly denied overtime wages, you should call my firm. If your employer is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act or the Massachusetts Wage Act, you may be entitled to double or triple your back pay, and in some cases, attorneys fees.
If you are an employer and have questions about how these new regulations will affect your business, you should call my firm. Federal case law makes clear that if the employer makes a good faith effort to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act by obtaining the advice of counsel, the employer can avoid paying damages. Make sure you are protected.