Employers Phone Home – Out of State Employer Sued in Massachusetts

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by Adam J. Shafran

In a recent decision out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, a New York-based employer was held subject to suit for unpaid wages in Massachusetts because it allowed an employee to work from home in Massachusetts. The facts of the case serve as an important reminder to employers that they may be subject to suit in any state where they allow their employees to work from home remotely.

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Franchisor Not Liable for Alleged Tips Act Violation by Franchisee

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by Robert P. Rudolph

Where the plaintiff employee in Yarph v. Bowden Hospitality Newton LLC, et al. sought to add both the limited liability company that gave a hotel owner a license to do business and the LLC’s parent company to a lawsuit claiming that the hotel violated the Massachusetts Tips Act, the Business Litigation Session of Suffolk Superior Court ruled that the motion to add the franchisor defendants should be dismissed. The Court’s decision was based on the fact that neither entity had any control over or received any revenue from the alleged violation of the Massachusetts Tips Act.

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Insurer Not Obligated to Play Two Ways

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In a recent case of first impression, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) answered certified questions presented by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The questions focused on whether an insurer’s duty to defend (play defense) requires the insurer to pay for legal counsel to prosecute an affirmative counterclaim (play offense) on behalf of the insured. A divided SJC ruled that the insurer does not have to prosecute the insured’s counterclaim. The case is Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company v. Visionaid, No. SJC-12142 (June 22, 2017).

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IDEA Requires Schools to Offer an “Individualized Education Program” Reasonably Calculated to Enable a Child to Make Appropriate Progress

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by Jocelyn Campbell

This case involved a young boy diagnosed with autism who had been receiving services from an IEP from preschool through 4th grade in Douglas County School District in Colorado. The parents made the unilateral decision to enroll their son in a private school after they disagreed with the school district’s proposed IEP for 5th grade. They argued that the plan proposed goals that were too similar to the goals from the earlier years. The student and his parents filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Colorado stating the student was denied a free and appropriate education (FAPE) and seeking reimbursement of his tuition. The parents further argued that their son had made academic, social and emotional progress at the private school. The Federal District Court ruled the IEP proposed by Douglas County School District was substantively adequate, further clarifying the educational benefit the student was receiving from Douglas County School District was “merely more than de minimus.”

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Exhausting Administrative Remedies Under IDEA Not Required in School Discrimination Cases Alleging Disability

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by Jocelyn Campbell

This case centered on a parents’ request to have their daughter’s Goldendoodle, a service dog, accompany their daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to kindergarten. The school district denied the parents request and the parents filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court in Michigan under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court dismissed the case, pointing to federal law that requires families seeking relief that is also available under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to avail themselves of all possible administrative remedies under IDEA before filing a civil lawsuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.

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