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Dixon v. City of Malden (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-032-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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     SJC‑11137   GARY DIXON  vs.  CITY OF MALDEN.       Middlesex.     November 6, 2012.  ‑  March 4, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.       Massachusetts Wage Act.  Contract, Employment.  Damages, Termination of employment contract.  Employment, Termination.  Municipal Corporations.  Public Employment, Vacation pay.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November 1, 2007.   The case was heard by Thomas P. Billings, J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered by him.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Alfred Gordon for the plaintiff. Kathryn M. Fallon for the defendant.       IRELAND, C.J.  We transferred this case from the Appeals Court on our own motion to consider whether undifferentiated gratuitous weekly payments made by the city of Malden (city) to the plaintiff, Gary Dixon, after he was discharged covered his claim for unpaid vacation days under G. L. c. 149, §§ 148, 150 (Wage Act).  The plaintiff appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court dismissing his claim against the city.  He asserts that a Superior Court judge erred in dismissing his claim under the Wage Act for vacation pay, costs, attorneys’ fees, and treble damages on the ground that, although the manner of the payments violated the express language of the Wage Act, the city nevertheless compensated the plaintiff.  Because we conclude that the city could not cast those payments as vacation pay after the fact and that the plaintiff is entitled to recover his vacation pay in addition to costs and attorneys’ fees, we remand the case to the Superior Court for entry of a judgment consistent with our opinion. Facts and Procedure.  We present the essential facts found by the judge after a jury-waived trial. In 1983, the city appointed the plaintiff as a director of a city-owned nursing home, where the plaintiff worked until March, 2007.  Although a city ordinance provided for successive two-year terms of appointment, the city did not formally reappoint the plaintiff to his position after 1996.  He continued working in a “holdover capacity,” apparently under a provision in a city ordinance providing that appointed officials hold office “until a successor shall be chosen and qualified.”  As a city employee, the plaintiff was entitled to a certain number of vacation […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

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