DiFiore v. American Airlines, Inc., No. 10-1108 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In 2005 American Airlines began charging passengers a fee of $2 for each bag checked with porters providing curbside service (skycaps) at Logan Airport. Gratuities fell significantly, despite the posting of signs intended to clarify that the fee was not a tip. Skycaps sued and a jury awarded damages for tortious interference with economic advantage and for violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 152A, which provides that no employer may demand or accept from any service employee any payment or deduction from a tip or service charge given to a service employee by a patron. The First Circuit reversed, noting that violation of the tips statute was the basis of damages itself and served as the improper conduct on which the jury based its tortious interference verdict. That statute is preempted by federal law; it is "related to" both price and service and it favors Massachusetts working for the national operation.