Joint Employer Status Affirmed – Herb Chambers and Jennings Road Management (JRM) Corp

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has affirmed a Superior Court ruling that a Herb Chambers’ management company is the joint employer of all Herb Chambers’ dealership employees.

Massachusetts Appeals Court

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Claiming violations of the Massachusetts wage laws, the plaintiff, Sakiroh Tran, sued not only the car dealership where she works as a parts advisor, but also a company that has a management agreement with that dealership. Following a bench trial in the Superior Court, the judge concluded that the company is a joint employer of Tran under the totality of the circumstances test set forth in Jinks v. Credico (USA) LLC, 488 Mass. 691, 692 (2021), and therefore liable for any violations of the wage laws that Tran can prove. We affirm. …

“As discussed, ‘it is the totality of the circumstances, and not any one factor, which determines whether a worker is the employee of a particular alleged employer.’ … Here, we agree with the trial judge that [defendant Jennings Road Management Corp. (JRM)] ‘retained for itself sufficient control of the terms and conditions of employment’ for employees at [Herb] Chambers BMW like Tran. … JRM exercises control over the nature and structure of Tran’s employment through detailed employment policies set forth in the handbook and through a JRM employee who works at the dealership, handles human resources and workplace trainings, and participates in decisions about employee discipline. JRM exercises control over the economic aspects of Tran’s employment by setting and administering the benefits available to Chambers BMW employees, handling payroll records and other employment-related paperwork, and reviewing and adjusting employee salary levels. While JRM argues that it is merely an independent ‘management consulting company’ that provides ‘back-office’ services to the dealerships in exchange for fees, the record shows that JRM’s purpose is not just to provide administrative and managerial support to the dealerships, but also to exercise control over the terms and conditions of the employees who work there. …

“The interlocutory order of the Superior Court judge dated February 28, 2023, determining that JRM is Tran’s joint employer for the purposes of Tran’s wage law claims, is affirmed.”

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