The Boston Regional Solicitor's Office
The Boston Regional Solicitor's Office is responsible for civil trial litigation and legal advice and support for the U.S. Department of Labor for matters arising in the following states:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode island
The Boston Regional Solicitor's Office employs approximately 26 attorneys and 5 legal support staff.
What We Do:
The Boston Regional Solicitor's Office:
- recommends and prosecutes litigation in administrative law courts and U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts throughout New England;
- provides legal and strategic advice and assistance to DOL worker protection agencies in support of their enforcement priorities;
- works cooperatively with state and local governments and with worker advocacy organizations to achieve common worker protection goals; and
- assists United States Attorney's offices in the prosecution of criminal cases arising from DOL agency civil investigations
Attorneys employed by the Boston Regional Solicitor's Office may be called upon to handle matters in any of the Department of Labor's program areas. Most work performed in this region arises out of investigative activity by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (including Whistleblower), the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Wage and Hour Division, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Among the industries we often deal with are construction, restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, insurance companies, and financial services companies. We frequently handle cases involving:
- vulnerable workers misclassified as independent contractors or otherwise victimized by predatory employment practices
- correction of systemic violations on an enterprise-wide basis where conditions warrant, including from:
- employers operating in multiple states, engaged in wage theft or unsafe work practices, and
- financial institution and insurance company service providers to pension and welfare plans
- Entering into and implementing MOUs/Common Interest Agreements with five of the six New England states, to cooperatively pursue common enforcement goals, including especially combating misclassification of employees as independent contractors.
- Obtaining a Consent Judgment requiring two related construction companies and their principals to pay $2,359,685 in back wages and liquidated damages to 478 employees and $262,900 in civil money penalties. The companies misclassified most of their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them overtime wages; the employers were required to hire expert consultants to create pay and recordkeeping systems to ensure compliance with the FLSA.
- Executing a settlement agreement with a major financial institution addressing its failure to disclose its markup/markdown in foreign exchange transactions, and its misrepresentations regarding the fees it charged its ERISA plan clients in these transactions. The settlement is part of a global resolution of investigations conducted by the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and of private class action lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The DOL settlement includes a $60 million payment to ERISA plans, a component of a $300 million overall class action settlement. The bank will also pay government penalties totaling $225 million.
- Obtaining orders requiring enterprise-wide abatement of safety and health violations at a number of major employers, including a national automotive chain that agreed to institute procedures to protect workers from being crushed or struck by hydraulic lifts; a national roofing company that agreed to implement a uniform safety and health program for all its affiliated companies in multiple states; a New England grocery chain that agreed to enhanced safety and health measures at more than sixty grocery stores; a large Massachusetts temporary staffing agency that agreed to proactively safeguard the safety and health of temporary workers at its client workplaces in several states; and a Massachusetts mental health provider that agreed to implement comprehensive procedures to better protect its workers against workplace violence at its multiple locations.
- http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=22884 (Monro)
- http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=20610 (Nationsroof)
- http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=22350 (DeMoulas)
- http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28155 (Marathon)
- http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=24531 (North Suffolk)
- Securing a Consent Judgment requiring a wholesale animal hide business to pay $825,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 14 significantly underpaid undocumented employees, and $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to 10 of them who were unlawfully fired for cooperating with the investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. We asserted that had this case gone to trial, we would have invoked the doctrine of equitable tolling to seek back wages and liquidated damages beyond the three year limitations period due to the company's egregious treatment of the workers.
- Obtaining a unique settlement with a Boston electrical contractor after a crane overturned and killed two employees. The agreement commits the contractor to extensive corrective actions to prevent future accidents, and establishes an endowment fund in the names of the deceased to provide training scholarships to workers interested in construction project management and safety.
- http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=29388 (Mass Bay)
- Assisting a county attorney in convicting a New Hampshire gunpowder plant owner of manslaughter in connection with an explosion at the plant that killed two employees.
- Obtaining a decision in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts vindicating the rights of a dental assistant fired for filing an OSHA complaint. After a seven-day bench trial, the court held that defendants violated the whistleblower provision of the OSH Act, by firing the dental assistant for notifying OSHA about defendants' unsafe procedure for disposing of contaminated needles. The court ordered defendants to pay to pay back wages and compensatory damages and enjoined them from violating the anti-retaliation provisions of the OSH Act.
- Securing a Consent Judgment requiring a large medical manufacturing company, and federal contractor, to pay $290,000 in back wages and interest to 78 Hispanic workers. The Department alleged the workers had been discriminated against, under Executive Order 11246, by being paid less than their similarly situated white counterparts. The Consent Judgment also required the employer to conduct training on its equal employment opportunity programs for all people involved in making decisions about compensation at the facility where the workers were employed.
- Obtaining a Consent Judgment holding both a plastic products manufacturer and the company that supplied it with contract labor responsible, as joint employers, to pay $1,433,618 in back wages and liquidated damages to 566 underpaid employees and $100,000 in civil money penalties.
- Obtaining a global settlement from a sand and gravel company that required payment of the largest fines recovered from any mine in New England in the past decade, and mandated that the company retain an outside safety consultant experienced in mine safety, for purposes of improving its safety culture through training and performance of safety audits over the next 12 months.
- Negotiating a settlement with a major insurance carrier that required a $5.2 million payment to 1400 retirement plans adversely affected by its undisclosed practice of keeping investment gains achieved when the company failed to process requested transactions in a timely manner. The company also paid a substantial penalty.
Department of Labor Agencies Supported:
- Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
- Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP)
- Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
Law and Paralegal Student Intern Program:
The Boston Regional Solicitor's Office operates a vigorous law and paralegal student intern program year-round, offering students exposure to the full range of activities the office engages in. Several of our former interns have gone on to become participants in the Department's Honors Program.
Fissured Workplace Group
Office activities include an interdisciplinary attorney-run study and action group dedicated to analyzing the challenges presented by the "fissured workplace," and developing innovative legal strategies to ensure worker protection under the laws we enforce.
Region I. BOSTONJohn F. Kennedy - Federal Office Building
Government Center, Room E-375
Boston, MA 02203(617) 565-2500
(617) 565-2142 (FAX)
Michael D. Felsen
DEPUTY REGIONAL SOLICITOR / Counsel for OSHA
Christine T. Eskilson
- Counsel for Civil Rights / Whistleblower Kelly Lawson
- Counsel for ERISA Marjorie A. Butler
- Counsel for Wage and Hour Programs Merle D. Hyman
- Management Analyst Judy L. Nelson
- DEPUTY REGIONAL SOLICITOR / Counsel for OSHA Christine T. Eskilson
- REGIONAL SOLICITOR Michael D. Felsen