ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND

WORKERS’ RIGHTS

Shannon has spent her entire legal career of more than 23 years fighting and winning for working people. For decades, she has taken on some of the most powerful interests in the country, including Uber, Amazon, Starbucks, IBM, FedEx, American Airlines, her alma mater Harvard University (which she has proudly sued 4 times!), and many more. For her entire legal career, Shannon has represented all kinds of working people, from Uber drivers, waitresses, construction workers, janitors, strippers, and more, and helped them recover more than half a billion dollars that corporate America stole from them.

Shannon has been widely recognized as one of the most effective workers’ rights lawyers in the country. Shannon will use the full power of the Attorney General’s Office to crack down on wage violations, misclassification, and discrimination, and strengthen workers’ rights.

As Attorney General, Shannon will:

      1. Devote additional resources to the Fair Labor Division;
      2. Establish a fund to allow victims of wage theft to receive their stolen pay promptly; 
      3. Pursue direct, systemic enforcement in court of wage theft violations;
      4. Hold corporations accountable for misclassifying employees as independent contractors; and
      5. Actively promote legislation to advance economic justice and strengthen workers’ rights and ability to form unions and bargain fair contracts with strong wages and benefits. 

Devote Additional Resources to the Fair Labor Division

While the Fair Labor Division is a critical means of enforcing our wage laws, this office needs additional resources to investigate allegations of wage theft and deliver more money back to workers more urgently. 

As Attorney General, Shannon will:

      • Secure additional resources for the Fair Labor Division by working with the state legislature and through litigation against bad actor corporations;
      • Increase multilingual investigators;
      • Ensure division is led by people well experienced in fighting for workers;
      • Strengthen partnerships with worker centers, unions, and labor organizations.

Establish a Worker Stabilization Fund for Wage Theft Claims

Wage theft investigations and litigation can take months – or even years – to resolve.  However, workers who have been cheated by their employers cannot afford to wait that long to get their hard-earned pay back in their pocket – they need to pay rent and put food on the table now. Shannon will work to establish a fund to ensure that workers with credible wage theft claims get their money back right away, similar to how our unemployment and workers’ compensation systems operate.

As Attorney General, Shannon will: 

      • Establish a Worker Stabilization Fund to ensure that workers with wage theft claims get paid right away while the Attorney General’s Office goes after bad-actor employers who steal wages;
      • Pursue triple damages for wage violations directly in court; 
      • Ramp up educational efforts to ensure that workers understand their rights.

Pursue Direct, Systemic Enforcement of Wage Theft Violations

Wage theft is a billion dollar problem in Massachusetts. While the Attorney General’s Office has strong tools to enforce our wage laws, wage theft claims that do get pursued often go through an administrative citation process, which employers can drag out for months or even years, and then delay even further through lengthy court appeals.  Shannon knows from her decades of litigation experience that, when workers have their wages stolen, they need relief immediately. Likewise, corporations who steal from their employees need to be held accountable with enforcement efforts that have real teeth.

As Attorney General, Shannon will:

      • Pursue aggressive, systemic enforcement of wage theft claims across industries;
      • Expedite the enforcement process of our wage laws and cut through administrative red tape;
      • Undertake comprehensive and proactive efforts to root out wage violations in industries where violations are rampant;
      • Implement debarment proceedings against repeat violators to prevent them from accessing public construction contracts;
      • Pursue criminal violations for the worst offenders;
      • Partner with unions, community organizations, and worker centers to uncover violations of our wage laws across Massachusetts.

Protect and Expand the Rights of Unions and Workers

Having represented workers and unions for more than 20 years, Shannon knows firsthand how important collective bargaining and unionization are to improving working standards, raising wages and benefits, and protecting working class families.  Shannon will use every tool available to expand workers’ rights and ability to organize and collectively bargain, as well as the bully pulpit of the Attorney General’s office to trumpet the importance of unions and the right to organize. 

As Attorney General, Shannon will:

      • Connect workers who are interested in furthering their collective power with union representatives to encourage organizing new workplaces;
      • Fight for legislation to allow public employees to engage in strikes;
      • Stand with unions in their pursuit of the right to bargain collectively on all matters affecting members’ pay, benefits, and workplace conditions, including staffing levels and inclusivity; obtain fair contracts; and ensure they are followed.

Hold Corporations Accountable for Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

Corporations skirting labor and employment laws to protect their bottom line is nothing new. More recently we have seen an increase in corporations misclassifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid having to provide them benefits such as overtime, paid time off, and health care, among others. Nowhere is this trend more prominent today than with so-called “gig economy” companies, such as Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and others.

Over the past decade Shannon has taken on Uber, Lyft, and the entire gig economy for misclassifying their workers as independent contractors. Shannon’s groundbreaking work in this area sparked the national conversation about the importance of ensuring employment and labor protections for these gig workers. Shannon introduced the Massachusetts’ “ABC” test, the strongest independent contractor misclassification test in the country, in California, where the Supreme Court of California adopted it. This result led to the California state legislature then codifying this test into law with AB 5

As these gig economy companies attempt to buy themselves carve-outs to labor and employment laws through ballot initiatives, as we’ve seen in California and here in Massachusetts, it is imperative that our next Attorney General know how to beat them at their own game. This issue is not just about Uber and Lyft drivers; they are just the tip of the iceberg. If these companies win a carve-out from our employment laws, every industry in the country will be lining up to be the next one to try to exempt itself from the responsibilities all employers hold. Shannon will be a leader among Attorneys General in fighting back.

As Attorney General, Shannon will:

      • Pursue aggressive impact litigation against companies who misclassify their employees as independent contractors;
      • Continue the Attorney General’s ongoing litigation against Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy companies for worker misclassification; 
      • Partner with unions and worker centers to root out violations of Massachusetts’ independent contractor law;
      • Lead the fight against any future attempts by gig economy companies or other industries to undermine our labor laws through a ballot initiative;
      • Prioritize systemic enforcement efforts where corporations have shielded themselves from private lawsuits through the use of court-endorsed arbitration provisions.

Support Legislation to Advance Economic Justice and Strengthen Workers’ Rights

Advancing economic justice will require a commitment from every branch of government. Shannon will use the full power of the bully pulpit to support legislation to strengthen workers’ rights and create a more fair economy. She will strive to be an activist Attorney General and partner with the state legislature. 

As Attorney General, Shannon will fight for legislation to:

      • Strengthen our wage theft laws to expand enforcement and ensure that the Attorney General’s Office has the tools it needs;
      • Create a Private Attorney General Act to aid enforcement of wage theft and other employer abuses;
      • Allow public employees to engage in strikes;
      • Eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers and establish one fair wage;
      • Implement fair scheduling laws to require employers to give employees notice of their schedule 14 days in advance;
      • Strengthen wage transparency;
      • Improve the standard for joint employment liability. Companies exploit this loophole to delegate employment responsibilities to intermediaries in order to avoid being held accountable for their actions;
      • Expand the statute of limitations for wage claims from three years to six years;
      • Reimplement Massachusetts’ Sunday overtime law.