Posts tagged "Assistance"

Commonwealth v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-019-18)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT. 1784CV02682-BLS2 ____________________ COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS v. PENNSYLVANIA HIGHER EDUCATION ASSISTANCE AGENCY d/b/a FedLoan Servicing ____________________ MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has sued the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) for engaging in allegedly unfair and deceptive acts and practices against Massachusetts student loan borrowers. It appears to be undisputed that PHEAA, although originally established to help provide student loans and grants for Pennsylvania residents, has become one of the largest student loan servicers in the country and now manages the federal student loan accounts of hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents under a contract with the United States Department of Education. The Commonwealth claims that PHEAA violated the federal Consumer Financial Protection Act and G.L. c. 93A by charging and collecting amounts not owed by borrowers, failing to process borrowers’ applications for income driven repayment plans in a timely and accurate manner, and failing to properly count borrowers’ qualifying payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. PHEAA has moved to dismiss this action on several grounds. The Court will DENY this motion because it is not convinced that PHEAA is an arm of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and shares in its sovereign immunity, that PHEAA cannot be sued under G.L. c. 93A or that its alleged misconduct is exempt from c. 93A because it is affirmatively permitted by federal law, or that the United States Department of Education is an indispensable party. 1. Background—PHEAA’s Enabling Act. Certain aspects of the enabling act that created PHEAA provide background relevant to PHEAA’s claims that it is entitled to invoke the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s sovereign immunity and that it cannot be sued under G.L. c. 93A because it is a public entity. – 2 – PHEAA was established by the Pennsylvania Legislature as “a public corporation and government instrumentality.” 24 Pa. Stat. § 5101. It is authorized to make, guarantee, and service student loans. Id. § 5104(3). By statute, PHEAA has substantial financial and operational independence from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PHEAA can spend money “for any of its purposes” without needing any legislative appropriation. Id. § 5104(3). Although PHEAA must deposit its revenues “in the State Treasury,” it may use its funds whenever it wants “at the discretion of the board of directors for carrying out any of the corporate purposes of the agency.” Id.; see also id. § 5105.10 (PHEAA’s loan servicing, loan repayment, and other revenues are held within State Treasury in a segregated “Educational Loan Assistance Fund,” are all “appropriated to [PHEAA’s] board,” and “may be applied and reapplied as the board shall direct and shall not be subject to lapsing”). And PHEAA may […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 1, 2018 at 7:48 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cape Cod Collaborative v. Director of the Department of Unemployment Assistance, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-051-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   15-P-436                                        Appeals Court   CAPE COD COLLABORATIVE  vs.  DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE & another.[1]     No. 15-P-436.   Barnstable.     January 7, 2016. – May 4, 2017.   Present:  Hanlon, Sullivan, & Maldonado, JJ.     Employment Security, Partial unemployment, Eligibility for benefits, School bus driver, Judicial review.       Civil action commenced in the Barnstable Division of the District Court Department on April 29, 2013.   The case was heard by W. James O’Neill, J.     David A. Guberman, Special Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant. Kevin F. Bresnahan for the plaintiff.     MALDONADO, J.  In this case, we consider whether Stephanie Hennis, a full-time bus driver for the Cape Cod Collaborative (collaborative),[2] is entitled to partial unemployment compensation benefits for the three days she did not work and was not paid during the week ending Saturday, November 24, 2012, which included the Thanksgiving recess.  Because we conclude that G. L. c. 151A, § 28A(c), does not bar the payment of such benefits in the circumstances of this case, we reverse the judgment of the Barnstable Division of the District Court Department (District Court), which reached a contrary conclusion. Statutory framework.  We begin with a brief overview of the Unemployment Insurance Law, G. L. c. 151A, so as to put the underlying facts in context.  The fundamental purpose of the statute is to “afford benefits to [individuals] who are out of work and unable to secure work through no fault of their own.”  Connolly v. Director of the Div. of Unemployment Assistance, 460 Mass. 24, 25 (2011), quoting from LeBeau v. Commissioner of the Dept. of Employment & Training, 422 Mass. 533, 538 (1996).  We are required to construe G. L. c. 151A “liberally in aid of its purpose, which purpose is to lighten the burden which now falls on the unemployed worker and [her] family.”  G. L. c. 151A, § 74, as appearing in St. 1990, c. 177, § 340. With respect to employees of educational organizations, however, the Legislature has carved out certain exceptions to the general availability of unemployment compensation benefits.  As pertinent here, G. L. c. 151A, § 28A(c), as appearing in St. 1977, c. 720, § 29, provides that, with respect to services performed for an educational institution, “benefits shall not be paid to any individual on the basis of such services for any week commencing during an established and customary vacation […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 4, 2017 at 8:16 pm

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Subcontracting Concepts, Inc. v. Commissioner of the Division of Unemployment Assistance, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-147-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   13-P-269                                        Appeals Court   SUBCONTRACTING CONCEPTS, INC.  vs.  COMMISSIONER OF THE DIVISION OF UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE & another.[1] No. 13-P-269. Middlesex.     October 8, 2013. – November 12, 2014.   Present:  Rubin, Milkey, & Agnes, JJ.   Employment Security, Employment relationship, Burden of proof.   Civil action commenced in the Ayer Division of the District Court Department on August 23, 2011.   The case was heard by Michael J. Brooks, J.     Jack K. Merrill for the plaintiff. Suleyken D. Walker, Assistant Attorney General, for Commissioner of Unemployment Assistance.      AGNES, J.  This case concerns the liability of the plaintiff, Subcontracting Concepts, Inc. (SCI), a New York corporation, for contributions to the Massachusetts unemployment compensation fund (fund) pursuant to G. L. c. 151A, §§ 13 & 14.  The Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) determined that the defendant Kenneth Flynn was an “employee,” who performed “employment” services for SCI, who was his “employer.”  SCI contends that Flynn was an independent contractor (and not an employee) under a statutory exemption set forth in G. L. c. 151A, § 2.  For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the board of review (board) of the DUA ruled correctly that Flynn was an employee who performed services for SCI, and thus we affirm the judgment of the District Court which reached the same result. 1.  Procedural background.[2]  This appeal arose out of a claim for unemployment compensation filed by Flynn in September, 2009.  Flynn worked from April 4, 2009, to August 12, 2009, when he was terminated.  Flynn named Ace Expediters of Alabama, Inc. (Ace), as his employer.  Flynn did not work for anyone else during this period.[3] 2.  Factual background.  The examiner made the following findings of fact which are amply supported by the evidence presented at the hearing.  On March 21, 2009, Flynn entered into a written contract with SCI to provide services to “SCI and its customers.”[4] The examiner found that SCI “is engaged in providing drivers and vehicles to client courier services to perform their necessary delivery work.  They also provide a payroll service, paying the drivers, who are always hired as independent contractors.”  Flynn did not sign a contract with SCI’s courier client for whom he made the deliveries, in this case Ace.   Flynn’s agreement with SCI states that “no employer/employee relationship is created under this agreement or otherwise.”  No taxes were deducted from Flynn’s pay […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - November 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm

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Younker v. Department of Transitional Assistance (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-067-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us       13‑P‑855                                        Appeals Court   DIANE M. YOUNKER  vs.  DEPARTMENT OF TRANSITIONAL ASSISTANCE.     No. 13‑P‑855. Suffolk.     January 15, 2014.  ‑  June 16, 2014. Present:  Cypher, Rubin, & Hines, JJ.     Anti-Discrimination Law, Age, Prima facie case.  Employment, Discrimination, Demotion, Constructive discharge.  Department of Transitional Assistance.  Constitutional Law, Freedom of association.  Practice, Civil, Summary judgment, Prima facie case.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on December 31, 2010.   The case was heard by Bonnie H. MacLeod, J., on a motion for summary judgment.     Paul L. Nevins for the plaintiff. Kenneth Y. Lee, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant.   RUBIN, J.  The plaintiff, Diane M. Younker, appeals from a summary judgment on her claims for violation of her constitutional right of association and for age discrimination under G. L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1C) & 9.  We reverse in part.   1.  Age discrimination.  The plaintiff was employed by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) for forty-two years.  She was repeatedly promoted during her long tenure at the agency, rising from her initial post as a social worker to become the director of the Davis Square office in Somerville.  In 2007, when the Davis Square and Revere offices were merged, she was thought sufficiently qualified to be appointed director of the newly combined office in Revere.  The former director of the Revere office became her assistant director. In the spring of 2009, shortly after the appointment of Julia Kehoe as commissioner of the DTA, the plaintiff was informed in a telephone call from John Augeri, DTA assistant commissioner of field operations, that she was being demoted.  The director of the Framingham office, Paul Sutliff, was made director of the Revere office, while the plaintiff would be made assistant director.  Concluding that her demotion amounted to constructive termination, the plaintiff resigned the following month. At the time of the demotion, the plaintiff was seventy years old.  Sutliff was fifty-three.  The plaintiff stated in her affidavit, and the defendant does not dispute, that at the time of her demotion she was not told any reason for her removal from the directorship of the Revere office.  She insisted upon being given notice of the demotion in writing and was sent a letter on April 7, 2009, which provided written confirmation of the reassignment but again failed to […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm

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