On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Improvement Act (“the Act”) into law, overhauling the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA”).  When initially passed, the AMLA met with extensive criticism by plaintiff-side whistleblower attorneys for failing to set a defined guaranteed rate for whistleblower awards, with the potential awards ranging from zero percent to thirty percent for identifying wrongful conduct in the anti-money laundering area.  In response to this criticism and to correct other “shortcomings,” Congress amended the law in 2022 through its omnibus budget to expand enforcement measures within the United States and beyond its borders by clarifying who can be a whistleblower and the rewards for successfully raising compliance complaints.  Below, we delve into these changes and their significance for employers.  Essentially, these changes will increase employers’ potential liability for retaliation claims by emboldening newly eligible whistleblowers and their lawyers to raise non-compliance complaints.

Continue Reading The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 Gets a “Glow Up”: Congress Strengthens Enforcement by Enhancing Financial Incentives and Clarifying Whistleblower Eligibility

On November 1, 2022, in Dusel v. Factory Mutual Ins. Co., the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that “close temporal proximity” alone does not establish pretext as this evidence “must be considered alongside the . . . record.” Nor does mere close temporal proximity establish pretext where the employer has a legitimate business reason for taking adverse action against the employee, and more particularly, where the employer subsequently discovers the employee’s misconduct in a separate, unrelated matter. Dusel is a win for employers because it signals that engaging in protected activity will not immunize an employee from the consequences of misconduct that violates company policy if the employer enforces its policy consistently and documents the reasons underlying the employee’s discipline.

Continue Reading First Circuit Upholds Employer’s Win in Retaliation Suit

On July 13, 2022, the Massachusetts Appeals Court signaled a victory for Massachusetts employers who rely upon independent contractors.  In Tiger Home Inspection, Inc. v. Dir. of the Dep’t of Unemployment, the Appeals Court reversed decisions from the Department of Unemployment (“DUA”) and trial court, concluding that the inspectors were independent contractors under Massachusetts’s Unemployment Insurance statute (“Unemployment Law”) and, thus, ineligible for unemployment benefits.  Focusing on Prongs A and C of the Unemployment Law’s “ABC” test for classifying independent contractors, the Appeals Court provided employers with excellent precedent and concrete guidance for navigating those elements of the test.  Notably, the Unemployment Law’s ABC language largely tracks the Massachusetts Wage Act’s “ABC” test, with Prongs A and C using identical language.  As a result, Tiger Home Inspection arguably provides employers with much-needed clarity for navigating both statutes.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Appeals Court Clarifies the A’s and C’s of Independent Contractor Status

Employers in the First Circuit know that unconscionability challenges to employment arbitration agreements are commonplace. In Trainor v. Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island recently addressed an employee’s arguments that an agreement’s venue clause requiring a Rhode Island employee to arbitrate her claims in Utah and