All posts by natecalef@gmail.com

Cleaning Companies

Over the past 10 years, we have brought cases against a number of so-called “cleaning franchise” companies that have preyed on immigrant workers by charging thousands of dollars for low-paying cleaning jobs. These companies frequently churn cleaning accounts to make a profit. In a number of our cases, the courts have ruled that the franchisees are actually employees entitled to the protections of the wage laws. Several years ago, in our case against Coverall, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a landmark ruling that these franchisees, because of their misclassification, may recover as damages the fees they paid for their franchises, as well as fees paid for additional business and for insurance. The court held that these fees essentially require the workers to “pay for their job” in violation of state wage law.

Independent Contractor Misclassification

One of our main specialities has been litigation challenging employers’ misclassification of employees as independent contractors. We have brought cases around the country that have affected a number of industries, including transportation, trucking, cleaning, cable installation, and adult entertainment. More recently, we have been at the forefront of challenging so-called “gig economy” companies for shortchanging workers through misclassification, including Uber, Lyft, Postmates, DoorDash, GrubHub, Amazon, Instacart, Handy, and others.

Companies that misclassify their workers as independent contractors save on labor costs by avoiding the obligations of employment. Their workers are deprived of many benefits including protection under the wage laws, overtime, minimum wage, expense reimbursements, as well as other employee benefits. Misclassified employees also do not receive unemployment when they lose their jobs and workers’ compensation when they are injured on the job. These companies compete unfairly with law-abiding companies that provide their workers employment protections and benefits.

If you have been classified as an independent contractor and believe you may have been misclassified, please contact us for a consultation. 

The following categories describe examples of the misclassification cases we have litigated.

“Gig economy” Companies

Over the last several years, a new breed of companies has flourished, which claim to be technology companies linking consumers with small independent businesses. Unfortunately, many of these companies are simply taking advantage of workers who are actually employees and depriving them of their rights under the wage laws. Our case on behalf of Uber drivers—which seeks reimbursement of expenses and unpaid tips—has been certified as a class action in California. Many companies are taking notice of the cases we have brought and are changing their practices and reclassifying their workers as employees.

For information regarding the Uber Lawsuit see www.uberlawsuit.com or email us at uberlawsuit@llrlaw.com

Delivery Drivers

For more than 10 years, beginning with our work on the cases against FedEx Ground, we have brought lawsuits in many states, on behalf of package, appliance, and furniture delivery drivers, who contract with large delivery companies, to deliver goods and furnishings to homes and businesses. Although these drivers often work full time for these companies, often as much as 12 hours a day, six days a week, and must purchase or lease their trucks, they are labeled as independent contractors and thereby miss out on all of the protections employees have. We currently have such cases pending in Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Exotic Dancers

Beginning with our pioneering work in Massachusetts establishing exotic dancers as employees, we have brought a number of lawsuits around the country on behalf of exotic dancers to recover back wages and tips. Strip clubs have long classified dancers as independent contractors. By doing this, the clubs have illegally required dancers to pay to work, by requiring them to pay shift fees, and to share their tips with management and non-service employees. We have recovered these fees for dancers, as well as full minimum wage for all hours worked. We currently have cases pending on behalf of exotic dancers in Massachusetts, California, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Nevada.

Marketing and Call Center Workers

We have filed lawsuits against a number of marketing and customer service outsourcing companies who purport to treat their marketing and customer service reps as independent contractors, paying them by commissions or piece rate, and failing to pay any overtime or training. These companies also require the workers to pay for their own expenses. There have been a number of court rulings finding such arrangements to violate federal and state wage and hour law, because these workers are really employees subject to the protections of the wage and hour laws.

Cleaning Companies

Over the past 10 years, we have brought cases against a number of so-called “cleaning franchise” companies that have preyed on immigrant workers by charging thousands of dollars for low-paying cleaning jobs. These companies frequently churn cleaning accounts to make a profit. In a number of our cases, the courts have ruled that the franchisees are actually employees entitled to the protections of the wage laws. Several years ago, in our case against Coverall, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a landmark ruling that these franchisees, because of their misclassification, may recover as damages the fees they paid for their franchises, as well as fees paid for additional business and for insurance. The court held that these fees essentially require the workers to “pay for their job” in violation of state wage law.

Cable and Satellite TV Installers

We have successfully brought class action cases around the country on behalf of cable TV and satellite TV installation and repair technicians, who have been wrongfully classified as independent contractors and therefore denied lawful overtime, as well as being subject to unlawful deductions from their pay. We have brought such cases in the states of Florida, Michigan, Illinois, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.

Other Industries

Unfortunately, independent contractor misclassification spans many industries.  We are investigating allegations of independent contractor misclassification in a variety of fields. We recently settled a case against Harvard University for misclassifying workers as independent contractors.  If you have worked anywhere in the country in any industry and believe you have been misclassified, please contact us to discuss your options.

Franchisees Win Major Victory On Appeal Against 7-Eleven
Forbes | March, 2019

Amazon, Drivers Duel Over Arbitrability Of FLSA Action
Law360 | March, 2019

Harvard Settles Lawsuit, Will Change Labor Policy
The Harvard Crimson | March, 2018

Shannon Liss-Riordan Sues Harvard on Behalf of Massage Therapists
JDJournal | January, 2016

Massage Therapist Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Harvard
The Harvard Crimson | January, 2016

Potential Cases

    Your Name

    Your Email

    Your Phone Number

    Location where you have worked

    Employer

    Position(s)

    Approximate dates of employment

    Describe your concern briefly

    If you are an employee anywhere in the country and want to seek a consultation with us, please fill in the information below.

    Our particular specialties are independent contractor misclassification, tips and service charge violations, and overtime and other wage violations.

    We will do our best to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible but regret that we cannot take on all cases that are submitted. Please note that filling out this form does not create an attorney-client relationship.

    Thank you!

    Job Opportunities

    Lichten & Liss-Riordan welcomes applications from lawyers interested in joining our team, who have proven commitment to advocating for employee rights. We look for candidates with outstanding writing and oral advocacy skills. If you are an attorney seeking employment with Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C., please email us a cover letter and resume, and we will contact you if we would like to invite you for an interview.

    Lichten & Liss-Riordan welcomes law students to apply to us for internships during the summer and term-time. To apply for a position, please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample and we will contact you if you have been selected for an interview.

    Our firm also employs a dedicated staff of paralegals and assistants. To apply for a position, please contact Office Administrator Rebecca Nelligan at rnelligan@llrlaw.com.

    Referrals

    We welcome referrals from attorneys around the country, and we always pay fair referral fees.

    We are also frequently contacted by attorneys from around the country seeking to collaborate with us in one of our specialty areas (independent contractor misclassification, tips and service charges litigation, and overtime and other wage violations).

    If you would like to contact us about a proposed case or referral, please email us at info@llrlaw.com.

    Harold L. Lichten

    Biography

    Harold Lichten is a founding partner of the firm and has been practicing labor and employment law for 40 years. His practice now focuses on employment related class actions and individual litigation involving the misclassification of employees as independent contractors; failure to pay wages and overtime; discrimination; and wrongful termination. Since the beginning of his career as a legal services lawyer fighting for the rights of low-income workers, Mr. Lichten has been deeply committed to the field of civil rights and equal employment opportunity. He has been lead or co-counsel in landmark employment discrimination, wage and hour, and independent contractor misclassification cases throughout the United States. He has successfully argued appeals before the Supreme Court’s of Maine, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New Jersey, and in the United States Court of Appeals for the First, Third, Seventh, Sixth, Eleventh and Ninth Circuits. In 2003 and 2015 he was named a Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year for his work in challenging the discriminatory hiring practices of police and fire departments within the state. Bradley v City of Lynn et al 443 F. Supp. 2d 145 (D. Mass); Smith v City of Boston 144 F. Supp. 3d 177 (D. Mass. 2015).

    In 2017, his case Gannon vs City of Boston 476 Mass. 786  (2017), established that employers could not discriminate against disabled workers, unless they could prove the worker posed a significant risk of harm to themselves or others. In 2015, in the landmark case of Hargrove vs  Sleepy`s , he successfully argued for the adoption of the strict ABC test in New Jersey for determining independent contractor misclassification, and later succeeded in having the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, reverse the denial of class certification in that same case.  947 F3d 467 (2020).

    In a series of cases, before the US Courts of Appeal for the Seventh, Third, First and Ninth Circuits, he successfully defended state wage act claims, against arguments that they were preempted by federal law, or subject to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. Bedoya v. Am. Eagle Express Inc., 914 F.3d 812, 815 (3d Cir. 2019), Waithaka v. Amazon.com, Inc., 966 F.3d 10 (1st Cir. 2020).

    Mr. Lichten and his firm, are currently actively involved in litigating cases across the country, on behalf of delivery drivers, cable and satellite TV installers, salespersons, and marketers improperly classified as independent contractors, and thereby denied wages and overtime. They are also litigating cases involving chain stores and service stations which have improperly classified their store managers as exempt from overtime.

    Mr. Lichten currently splits his time between New England and South Carolina and actively litigates cases  across the United States.

    Major Cases

    Pace v. City of Lynn, Case No. 11-01360, slip op. (Essex Super. Ct., June 6, 2014) (whistleblower case involving city employee with a multi-million dollar verdict won for plaintiff)

    Martins, et al. v. 3PD, Inc., 2013 WL 1320454 (D. Mass 2013) (won class certification and summary judgment that appliance delivery drivers were employees, not independent contractors)

    Sam Hargrove, et al. v. Sleepy’s, et al., Case Nos. 12-2541/12-2542 (3rd Cir. 2013) (won reversal and remand of decision finding New Jersey truck drivers to be independent contractors, not employees of Sleepy’s)

    Scantland, et al. v. Jeffry Knight, Inc., et al., 721 F.3d 1308 (11th Cir. 2013) (reversing trial court ruling that cable installers were properly classified as independent contractors)

    Lopez, et al. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 463 Mass. 696 (2012) (Supreme Court of Massachusetts reversed lower court decision and held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may be held liable under state discrimination law for constructing discriminatory promotional exams)

    In The News

    Mr. Lichten was named a 2003 and 2015 Lawyer of the Year by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

    Boston police lieutenant exam discriminated against minorities, judge says
    The Boston Globe | July, 2017

    Judge rules Boston police exam discriminated against minorities
    The Boston Globe | November, 2015

    Court suspends probation officer demotions
    The Boston Globe | August, 2015

    MCAD ruling supports black Worcester officers passed over for promotion
    Telegram & Gazette | July, 2015

    NJ’s Definition of ‘Employee’ Revives Sleepy’s Class Suit
    New Jersey Law Journal | May, 2015

    Fired official wins suit vs. city
    The Boston Globe | June, 2014

    Black police officials sue city
    The Boston Globe | February, 2012

    Police hit with bias decision; Two officers may be due ‘millions’
    Worcester Telegram | November, 2011

    Endo Sales Reps Win Conditional Cert. For OT Suit
    Law 360 | June, 2011

    Sebring men sue MasTec for OT pay
    Tampa Bay Online | June, 2010

    Contractors cry foul over benefit-excluding system
    St. Petersburg Times | December, 2009

    Independent contractor decision has lawyers wary
    Mass Lawyers Weekly | December, 2008

    Judge says firefighter tests biased and unfair
    The Boston Globe | August, 2006

    Organized labor of love
    The Boston Globe | February, 2005

    Education

    New York University School of Law, J.D., 1977
    University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1974

    Professional Affiliations

    Member, National Employment Lawyers Association
    Member, AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee

    Bar and Court Admissions

    Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, since 1987

    Admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, U.S. District Court of Maine, the U.S. Court of Appeals, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits.

    Practice Areas

    Labor unions, wage and hour class actions, wrongful termination, employment discrimination

    Cleaning Franchises

    We have brought many cases representing groups of employees who allege they have been misclassified as independent contractors, in Massachusetts and around the country.

    When companies misclassify their workers as independent contractors, these employees are often
    deprived of many benefits including overtime pay, vacation pay, health insurance, employer-sponsored retirement plans, and expense reimbursements. Misclassified employees also do not receive unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled. Companies that misclassify
    employees as independent contractors save these significant costs and also do not pay the employers’ share of employment taxes.

    We have won a number of important victories applying the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law.

    The courts have granted our motions for summary judgment, ruling that workers were misclassified as independent contractors in cases we have brought on behalf of package delivery drivers, an oil delivery driver, exotic dancers, and cleaning workers.

    We have also brought many cases representing cable installers who have been misclassified as independent contractors.

    In April of 2013 we obtained a ruling granting class certification in a case against cable installment company Gab Telecom, Inc. Current and former workers of Gab Telecom, Inc. have the right to join this case to challenge their misclassification and recover unpaid overtime. If you, or anyone you know has worked for Gab Telecom, Inc., please contact us immediately.