Total Articles: 151
Ogletree Deakins • August 05, 2019
Following the recently announced three-month delay to notice and contribution requirements, and the announcement of updated template notices and final regulations, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to issue updated guidance on the practical implementation of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law.
Ogletree Deakins • July 09, 2019
On June 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a decision emphasizing that an employer’s well-designed and thorough internal investigations made prior to a termination decision can provide a strong defense to claims, but less carefully conducted investigations do not.
Ogletree Deakins • June 24, 2019
On June 18, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) issued final regulations regarding the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML). This follows months of revisions, public hearings, and comments. The DFML has published an unofficial version of the regulations on its website and has stated that the official version will be available on or before Monday, July 1, 2019, from the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • June 17, 2019
On June 14, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) posted a new update confirming that the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Charlie Baker have enacted legislation to delay by three months (1) the date on which employers must notify their workforce of their rights and obligations under the Paid Family Medical Leave Act (“PFMLA”), and (2) the start date for employer and employee contributions to the PFML program. The workforce notification deadline is now September 30, 2019, and the contribution start date is now October 1, 2019.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • June 17, 2019
After announcing an agreement to delay the start of contributions under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA), the legislature passed a bill amending the law that the Governor subsequently signed and enacted on June 13, 2019. As announced, PFMLA contributions will begin on October 1, 2019, rather than July 1, 2019.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • June 16, 2019
On June 13, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an emergency bill amending the Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) law. The bill, and subsequent guidance provided by the Massachusetts Department of Paid Family Medical Leave (Department), change three key deadlines under PFML.
Fisher Phillips • June 14, 2019
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, along with state house and senate leadership, just announced that they had agreed to implement a three-month delay to the Commonwealth’s robust Paid Family and Medical Leave program late on Tuesday. In a joint release, the leaders stated:
Ogletree Deakins • June 14, 2019
In a joint statement issued earlier this week, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, state senate president Karen Spilka, and state house speaker Robert DeLeo announced a three-month delay to the contributions that will fund the state’s new paid family and medical leave program.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • June 12, 2019
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) released new guidance on its website about how to comply with several provisions of the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (“PFMLA”).
Jackson Lewis P.C. • June 12, 2019
Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo issued a joint statement on June 11, 2019, agreeing to amend the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) and delay the required contributions until October 1, 2019. Support for delaying the contributions has grown since a coalition of business, labor, and social justice groups sent a letter to Baker, Spilka, and DeLeo on May 20, 2019.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • June 12, 2019
In a late night statement issued from Beacon Hill on June 11, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, along with state house and senate leadership, announced that they agreed to implement a three-month delay to the state Paid Family and Medical Leave program. In the joint statement, the leaders explained:
Fisher Phillips • May 28, 2019
Led by Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), a nine-member coalition of the Massachusetts business community, along with employee and low-income advocacy groups, just requested a three-month delay to the start of contributions to the Commonwealth’s nascent paid family and medical leave program.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • May 16, 2019
The Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (Non-Compete Act) has yet to be tested, but its venue provision likely will come under special scrutiny. The venue provision governs the geographical location and forum in which a non-compete lawsuit may be maintained. Due to its apparent conflicts with federal law, the venue provision will likely be unenforceable to limit federal jurisdiction over related lawsuits or to prohibit or otherwise regulate arbitration of such lawsuits.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • May 16, 2019
There is some good news for employers subject to the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) and considering the availability of the private plan exemption.1 Previously, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department) took the position that an employer seeking a private plan exemption from the PFML program would need to provide benefits as generous as those offered under PFML at the time the exemption was approved.
Ogletree Deakins • May 14, 2019
Here is the latest information on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) requirements since our last report on April 17, 2019. As the date for issuing final regulations and starting employer contributions draws near, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to publish updates.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • May 10, 2019
Adhering to the “plain and ordinary” language of the state’s overtime statute and related regulations, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that inside sales employees paid on a 100% commission basis are additionally entitled to pay for overtime hours worked and premium pay for work on Sundays. Sullivan v. Sleepy’s LLC, 2019 Mass. LEXIS 244 (Mass. May 8, 2019).
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • May 05, 2019
Complying with the upcoming requirements of Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act (“PFMLA”) continues to be a bit of a moving target. The Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) is providing regular updates that address employer questions and concerns regarding the implementation of the new law.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • May 02, 2019
On May 1, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department) offered Massachusetts businesses a temporary reprieve by extending two key deadlines critical to the implementation of the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave law (PFML). First, employers will now have until June 30, 2019 to provide written notice to covered individuals of their rights and obligations under the PFML. Second, businesses will now have until September 20, 2019 to file an application for a private plan exemption.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • May 02, 2019
In an effort to help businesses, on May 1, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) extended both the deadline to notify employees about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) and the deadline for employers to apply for a “private plan” exemption from law. Previously, the DFML required employers to distribute notices to employees regarding the PFMLA by May 31, 2019, and required employers seeking a private plan exemption from the contribution requirements of the PFMLA to apply for an exemption by June 30, 2019.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • April 30, 2019
The new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) requires that employers issue notices to both employees and independent contractors, providing them with information about their rights under the law.
Ogletree Deakins • April 29, 2019
In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, No. 16-1466 (June 27, 2018), the Supreme Court of the United States significantly expanded the rights of nonunion public employees by holding that unions may not collect fees from such employees without their consent. On April 9, 2019, in Branch v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected an effort by nonunion public employees to stretch those rights even further to encompass the right to participate in labor negotiations.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 21, 2019
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has released template notices employers may use to fulfill the notice requirement to employees and 1099-MISC independent contractors under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA), G.L. c. 175M. Employers must provide a notice to their current workforce by May 31, 2019.
Fisher Phillips • April 21, 2019
The Massachusetts Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave—the agency charged with regulating and enforcing the Commonwealth’s nascent paid leave program—just issued its mandatory workplace poster and guidance on the law’s notification requirements. Yesterday’s announcement provides employers with needed guidance on the law’s notice requirement—an obligation you must meet by May 31, 2019. What do Massachusetts employers need to know about this latest development?
Ogletree Deakins • April 21, 2019
Last year, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law what has been referred to as the “grand bargain” legislation. When it was enacted, we covered some of the law’s key provisions that would have a significant impact on Massachusetts employers, including the phase-in of paid family and medical leave under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML).
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • April 16, 2019
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently discussed class certification in state court wage and hour cases in Gammella v. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.1 The SJC held that the same civil procedure rules applicable to other class actions also apply to wage claims. It also found that uncertainty in the exact number of persons who might have a valid claim is not a reason for denying class action treatment. The SJC further held that making an offer of judgment to a class action plaintiff that includes all potential relief she might recover does not extinguish that person’s claims.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 14, 2019
UPDATE: The changes to the Massachusetts data breach notification law described below are now in effect. Thus, if you have discovered a data incident involving the personal information of Massachusetts residents you will want to review these changes carefully – they are significant and the Commonwealth is intent on educating the public about them.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 09, 2019
Pending legislation could create new consumer privacy rights in Massachusetts. Earlier this year, Senator Cynthia Creem presented An Act Relative to Consumer Data Privacy in the Massachusetts Senate. This Consumer Privacy Bill, SD.341, combines key aspects of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). This bill would allow Massachusetts consumers a private right of action if their personal information or biometric information (referred to separately in the bill) is improperly collected.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • April 04, 2019
On March 29, 2019, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) released an updated version of the proposed Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) regulations, offering further clarification to one of the most generous paid family and medical leave programs in the nation.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 02, 2019
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has published updated draft regulations implementing the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFMLA) that, in many respects, substantially change or add to the initial draft regulations published in January 2019.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 28, 2019
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has released a new guide for employers on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA), G.L. c. 175M. The guide clarifies some questions generated by draft regulations published in January. The guide, released on March 26, 2019, explains what actions employers must take in the coming months.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • March 24, 2019
The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (PFML) will require most private employers to provide covered individuals with paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax. Beginning April 29, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”) will offer approved plan applications for employers seeking an exemption from collecting, remitting, and paying contributions under the PFML that would otherwise be due beginning on July 1, 2019.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • March 18, 2019
On March 15, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the “agricultural” exemption to the Massachusetts Overtime Law, M.G.L. c. 151, § 1A, does not apply to workers who perform post-harvesting activities. This decision, in the case of Arias-Villano v. Chang & Sons Enterprises, Inc., greatly expands the number of employees who are eligible for overtime under state law. In reaching this decision, the court also demonstrated that just because an employee may be exempt from overtime under federal law does not automatically mean that the employee also is exempt under the Massachusetts Overtime Law.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 12, 2019
Rejecting the federal standard for determining whether a party has “prevailed” on his or her claim under the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §§ 148 & 150, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held instead that the less-stringent “catalyst” test applies. As a result, plaintiffs who received $20,500 in a settlement under the Act were entitled to an award of attorney’s fees. Ferman v. Sturgis Cleaners, Inc., 481 Mass. 488, 2019 Mass. LEXIS 96 (Feb. 19, 2019).
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • February 06, 2019
Things continue to progress with respect to implementation of the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA). Click here for a summary of the key provisions of the law. A new agency, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has been formed to implement and administer the PFMLA, and they have created a helpful and user-friendly website.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • February 06, 2019
On January 29, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that failing to grant a lateral transfer for discriminatory reasons may constitute an “adverse employment action” that violates Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 151B. An employee may therefore be able to recover for illegal discrimination even if the position requested provides exactly the same base salary and benefits as his or her current position. The decision expands the scope of potential discrimination claims under Massachusetts law and may make it more difficult for employers to prevail on motions for summary judgment.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • January 28, 2019
The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has released draft regulations for the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (G.L. c. 175M). The proposed regulations, released on January 23, 2019, track many of the statute’s requirements. In addition to the draft regulations, the Department provided information on the amounts employers must contribute into the Trust Fund that will finance these paid leaves.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 26, 2019
On January 23, 2019, the newly-created Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department) released proposed regulations clarifying the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under the new Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Law (MFMLL). The MFMLL will require all private employers in Massachusetts to provide covered individuals with paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax.1 Under the proposed regulations, it appears that the Department will be responsible for, among other things, making decisions about whether to approve employees for paid leave under the MFMLL once the law goes into effect on January 1, 2021.
Ogletree Deakins • January 15, 2019
In June 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave and the Sales Tax Holiday. As one part of the so-called “grand bargain” legislation, effective January 1, 2019, Massachusetts employers with tipped employees are now required to calculate tipped employees’ wages at the end of each shift instead of at the end of each pay period. This change not only presents an additional administrative challenge but also makes it more likely that employers will be required to pay employees additional amounts to ensure that they receive at least minimum wage during slow shifts.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • January 10, 2019
The newly-created Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has stated that it plans to publish draft regulations for the recently enacted Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law no later than January 23, 2019. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has scheduled a number of public listening sessions on the draft regulations throughout the state, beginning with a session in Boston on January 30, 2019. A complete list of these public listening sessions can be found at this link.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 08, 2019
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office recently published guidance regarding how a new tipped-employee law is to be applied. Employers must now compare the tips earned by an employee, plus the service rate, to the full minimum wage at the end of each shift and pay any shortfall to the employee. This change went into effect January 1, 2019.
Fisher Phillips • January 08, 2019
As you may remember, it was Christmas in July for employees when Massachusetts passed the “Grand Bargain,” among other things, putting the Commonwealth on a path to a $15.00 minimum wage. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2019, however, not only did the minimum wage increase to $12.00 per hour, but there was a significant change to the way employers calculate the tip credit and a decrease to the Sunday/Holiday mandatory premium rate that, though favorable, actually might complicate matters.
Fisher Phillips • December 09, 2018
Massachusetts legislators have taken steps to immediately enhance the Commonwealth’s unemployment compensation regime for locked-out employees of gas and electric companies. In light of the 6-month standoff at National Grid, the gas and electric utility that serves much of Massachusetts, the House of Representatives just passed a bill today that would extend an employee’s unemployment eligibility indefinitely for the duration of any lockout, with their employer footing 100 percent of the cost. Where do we expect this legislation to go from here, and what do Massachusetts employers need to know about this development?
Ogletree Deakins • December 09, 2018
On October 13, 2018, the Massachusetts legislature amended the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law. Many other U.S. territories and localities have passed ban-the-box laws over the last decade that limit employer inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history. Massachusetts initially adopted ban-the-box legislation in August 2010.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • November 28, 2018
A summary of the Department of Family and Medical Leave's new website and FAQ, including highlights from the employer FAQ page.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • November 19, 2018
New guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue requires Massachusetts employers with six or more employees to file an annual health insurance responsibility disclosure (HIRD) form. The form became available on November 1, and must be submitted by November 30 of this year and each year subsequent.
Fisher Phillips • November 19, 2018
As the ramp-up towards Massachusetts’ paid family and medical leave continues, the newly created Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) just launched its website and issued its first guidance documents. As discussed previously, the July 1, 2019 date for starting contributions looms in the not-too-distant future, while benefits under the paid leave programs will begin in January 2021. What do employers need to know about this development?
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • November 13, 2018
A summary about the Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (“HIRD”) form and what it means for employers in Massachusetts.
Fisher Phillips • November 01, 2018
One month into Massachusetts’ new non-competition law, employers throughout the Commonwealth are learning what many predicted from the beginning—there are a lot more questions than answers. As Fisher Phillips previously reported, the new law adds several technical and substantive requirements that must be met in order to enforce a non-competition agreement. Today we spotlight a few issues employers must now grapple with.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • October 25, 2018
A summary about the Brave Act taking effect on November 7, including information about the new changes to the law, what these changes mean for employers, and how to address leave for veterans on Veterans Day.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • October 14, 2018
A summary about the new Criminal Justice Reform Act taking effect on October 13th, including information about existing law, changes to existing law, and what these changes mean for employers.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • September 06, 2018
The recently-enacted Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (“Act”) provides a roadmap for employers to follow to ensure enforcement of noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018. Although the Act sets forth several new requirements for noncompetition agreements, it also codifies what Massachusetts courts have held for years: if the restrictions in a noncompetition agreement are reasonable in activity, time and geographic scope, and are narrowly drafted to protect a legitimate business interest, the agreement should be enforced (provided the agreement complies with the Act).
XpertHR • August 15, 2018
A new Massachusetts law establishes minimum requirements for employment-related noncompete agreements to be enforceable and bans agreements that do not meet the law's requirements. Massachusetts joins several other states that have recently established new regulations for noncompete agreements. The new law applies only to agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 12, 2018
Just before midnight on July 31, 2018, the last day of its legislative session, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a significant bill regulating the use of non-compete agreements in the Commonwealth. Today, August 10, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed that bill into law.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 06, 2018
A Suffolk County jury recently awarded a Haitian–American nurse an unprecedented $28.2 million in total damages on her claim of retaliation against Brigham & Women’s Hospital, her former employer. At the same time, the jury rejected the nurse’s claim of race discrimination.
Ogletree Deakins • August 06, 2018
The Massachusetts Legislature has passed legislation governing the use of noncompetition agreements in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the legislation into law by August 10, 2018. Assuming that occurs, the law will codify existing Massachusetts case law to some degree, and it also will go much further in regulating the enforceability of noncompetition agreements, including limiting who may be subject to such agreements.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • August 05, 2018
On the final day of the legislative session, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a significant reform bill addressing non-compete agreements and trade secret protection. Passage was years in the making, as the specifics of reform and the need for reform itself have been hotly debated for almost ten years in prior legislative sessions. This update, written by Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP, outlines the significant changes that would occur to current MA law and what it means for employers.
FordHarrison LLP • August 05, 2018
As discussed in our prior Alert, the Massachusetts Legislature has been considering legislation focused on reforming non-compete covenants. The Legislature has now passed a major overhaul of non-compete law, known as the “Massachusetts Noncompetition Act.” Assuming Governor Charlie Baker signs the bill, it will apply to noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018. This Alert summarizes the key provisions of the Act.
Fisher Phillips • August 05, 2018
It finally happened. After years of debate on Beacon Hill, Massachusetts law makers agreed to reform the Commonwealth’s treatment of noncompetition agreements as part of a number of bills passed in the waning hours of the 2018 legislative session.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 05, 2018
After years of negotiation, on July 31, 2018, the Massachusetts legislature finally was able to pass legislation that, if signed by Governor Charlie Baker, would significantly limit the enforceability of noncompetition agreements in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act ("the Act") would apply to all noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018. If signed into law, the Act generally would limit all post-employment noncompetes to a maximum duration of 12 months, and, absent agreement to the contrary, require employers to pay 50% of the former employee’s base salary – termed “garden leave” pay – during the restricted period, among other constraints. This significant change to employment relationships in Massachusetts was included in a broader economic development bill, and is now on Governor Baker’s desk for signature.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 05, 2018
Just before midnight on July 31, 2018, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill regulating the use of non-compete agreements in the Commonwealth. This development is a long time coming, as the Legislature had been attempting for nearly a decade to create a non-compete law.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 01, 2018
The Massachusetts Legislature, at long last, has passed a bill regulating the use and enforcement of non-compete agreements in the private sector. Once “An Act relative to the judicial enforcement of noncompetition agreements” is signed by Governor Charlie Baker, it will take effect on October 1, 2018.
Ogletree Deakins • July 31, 2018
In the most recent step in a decade-long effort to enact comprehensive noncompete legislation, the Massachusetts Senate on July 25, 2018, passed an economic development bill containing amendments to Chapter 149 of the Massachusetts General Laws to regulate the use of noncompetition agreements.
Ogletree Deakins • July 20, 2018
Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana through a ballot referendum in 2016. As of July 1, 2018, retail marijuana stores are now permitted to operate in the state. The law allows cities and towns to exercise local control to ban or limit marijuana dispensaries, which are now opening in various locations around the state.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 16, 2018
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the state’s highest court, has held that an Initiative Petition (Initiative Petition 17-07) seeking to create a new law (“The Patient Safety Act”) that would dictate to hospitals and acute care units in state-operated health care facilities the number of patients that may be assigned to a registered nurse is constitutional and could be placed on the November ballot if a sufficient number of supporting signatures were submitted to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by July 3. Supporters of the Initiative Petition submitted the required number of signatures by July 3, so it will be placed on the November ballot as Question #1.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 03, 2018
The new “grand bargain” legislation Governor Charlie Baker signed into law last week gradually phases out the requirement that Massachusetts retailers pay time-and-a-half for work on Sundays or certain holidays. However, this phase-out has a hidden complication: payment of less than time-and-a-half for work on Sunday or holidays is not credited towards overtime for work over 40 hours in a week, and therefore must be included in the regular rate. This means retailers may be required to account for extra premium pay for employees who work on Sundays or holidays.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 02, 2018
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed a sweeping bill that, over a period of five years, will: (1) raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour; (2) mandate paid family and medical leave for Massachusetts employees; and (3) phase out Sunday and holiday premium pay for retail employees. The law, signed on June 28, 2018, also will institute an annual sales tax holiday weekend. The first minimum wage increase, to $12.00 an hour, and first decrease in Sunday and holiday premium pay will go into effect on January 1, 2019.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 02, 2018
Like New Jersey’s Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) amendments went into effect on July 1, 2018. Regarded as one of the first comprehensive fair pay laws to be passed at the state level, MEPA has served as not only as a catalyst, but a model, for the patchwork of fair pay laws being enacted across the nation.
Ogletree Deakins • July 02, 2018
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker just signed into law the so-called “grand bargain” bill, which contains provisions that will have a significant effect on employers in the state. The law is a compromise designed to avoid potential ballot questions about an increase in the state minimum wage, paid leave, and a reduction in the state sales tax. It contains key employment-related provisions, including:
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • June 29, 2018
On June 28, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker executed legislation that makes sweeping changes to Massachusetts law. As part of this so-called “Grand Bargain” legislation (the “Act”), Massachusetts will incrementally raise the minimum wage from $11 to $15 an hour and eliminate the need for most retail employees to receive premium pay for work performed on Sundays and holidays. The new law also creates one of the most generous paid family and medical leave programs in the country. Massachusetts now joins California, New York and Washington, D.C. as the only states to have both a $15 minimum wage and mandatory paid family and medical leave.
Fisher Phillips • June 28, 2018
In one fell swoop, Massachusetts has set in motion a plan to increase its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program as the result of a “grand bargain” between employee advocates and representatives of the state’s business community. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill in a ceremony today at the State House, which will also eliminate premium pay for Sundays and holidays, and make the annual sales tax holiday permanent. What do Massachusetts employers need to know about this new law?
Massachusetts legislators have passed a bill that, if signed, would:
Ogletree Deakins • May 01, 2018
The Massachusetts legislature is once again seeking to enact comprehensive noncompetition legislation to rein in the use, and some may argue the abuse, of restrictive covenants in employment agreements. Currently, noncompete agreements are examined by courts on a case-by-case basis under well-developed Massachusetts case law. This approach, however, has sometimes led to inconsistencies in the courts and unpredictable results.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 19, 2018
Ever since Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the state Equal Pay Act (MEPA) on August 1, 2016, employers have been seeking direction on how employee pay should be analyzed to withstand scrutiny under the new law. MEPA goes into effect on July 1, 2018.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 19, 2018
A provision in the Massachusetts criminal justice reform law signed by Governor Charlie Baker amends the state’s restrictions on the questions employers may ask a job applicant regarding the applicant’s criminal history during the hiring process. The new restrictions include an adjusted limitation on asking about misdemeanor convictions and a bar on asking about sealed or expunged criminal records.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • April 17, 2018
Health insurance carriers often provide explanation of benefits (EOB) summaries to the policyholder specifying the type and cost of health care services received by dependents covered by the policy. EOBs often disclose sensitive information regarding the mental or physical health condition of adult dependents. Massachusetts has now enacted a law, an act to protect access to confidential health care (the PATCH Act), that permits patients to require their insurance carriers to send their medical information only to them as opposed to the policyholder.
Ogletree Deakins • March 18, 2018
On March 1, 2018, the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) issued detailed guidance on the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), which are set to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The amendments, which were enacted in 2016, will overhaul MEPA, a law that has been in effect for over 70 years, and make it one of the strictest pay equity laws in the nation. Structured primarily in a question-and-answer format, the new guidance answers many of the important questions employers have been asking since the enactment of the amendments. This article will highlight some of the most significant issues addressed in the new guidance.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 08, 2018
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) on February 28, 2018, issued questions and answers (Q&A) to provide additional interpretive information about the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This updates the MCAD’s January guidance. The PWFA becomes effective on April 1, 2018.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 04, 2018
The Massachusetts Legislature, after a decade of attempts, may pass restrictions on the use of non-compete covenants in the Commonwealth.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • February 11, 2018
The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act goes into effect on April 1, 2018. This new law requires employers with six or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. As the effective date of the Act draws near, employers should take steps to ensure compliance with its requirements.
Ogletree Deakins • January 26, 2018
The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, enacted in July of 2017, will take effect on April 1, 2018. The Act prohibits Massachusetts employers from denying pregnant women and new mothers reasonable accommodation for their pregnancies and any conditions related to their pregnancies, regardless of whether the pregnancies or related conditions constitute disabilities under existing federal or state discrimination law. The Act also provides increased legal protection against pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 10, 2018
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held that individuals acting as board members and investors cannot be held personally liable under the Massachusetts Payment of Wages Law, M.G.L. c. 149, § 148, for a company’s failure to pay wages. Only board members or investors who also served as an officer or agent “having the management” of the company can be subjected to personal liability. This is a significant decision, given that the Payment of Wages Law carries substantial penalties for noncompliance.
Ogletree Deakins • October 31, 2017
Massachusetts employers are reminded that, per legislation signed by Governor Charlie Baker in July 2016, qualifying veterans scheduled to work on Veterans Day who wish to participate in Veterans Day activities in their communities may be entitled to paid leave from their employers to do so. The legislation, officially titled An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment or the HOME Act, amends a prior law that only required employers to grant veterans unpaid leave to participate in Veterans Day and Memorial Day activities provided they gave their employers “reasonable notice.”
Ogletree Deakins • October 30, 2017
As we get closer to the July 1, 2018 implementation date for the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), it is time to focus in earnest on practical workplace considerations for affected employers. Although the MEPA does not dictate what specific language employment policies must include, employers should align their internal policies and practices with the law’s detailed requirements. Employment policies that may require revision or amendment in order to comply with the provisions of MEPA cover not only compensation, but also hiring practices, interview procedures, commissions, merit-based bonuses, and confidentiality. Employers also should reviewing and updating their written employment applications, offer letters, onboarding materials, and job descriptions to ensure compliance with MEPA. These documents may include questions about salary history, explain company practices with regard to making compensation decisions, or otherwise touch on areas covered by MEPA.
Fisher Phillips • September 26, 2017
Coming on the heels of several high profile data breaches, lawmakers in the Bay State have turned their attention to evaluating and improving cybersecurity across the Commonwealth. The State Legislature has created a special committee on cybersecurity readiness and is working its way through several bills on data privacy and security (see below). In addition, Governor Baker has established a new department devoted to information technology, titled the “Executive Office of Technology Services and Security.”
Ogletree Deakins • September 08, 2017
The July 1, 2018, implementation date for the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) is less than a year away. The amendments approved in 2016 will bring about substantial changes to the definition of “comparable work,” employer defenses, statutes of limitations, and prohibited employer practices, such as salary history inquiries.
XpertHR • August 03, 2017
Next spring, Massachusetts employers will have additional compliance requirements under the state Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which prohibits employers from denying pregnant employees reasonable accommodations for pregnancy- and childbirth-related conditions, absent due hardship.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 01, 2017
An amendment to the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, G.L. c. 151B, expressly includes pregnancy as a protected characteristic and expands accommodation requirements for pregnant employees. The amended law goes into effect April 1, 2018.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 28, 2017
On July 27, 2017, Governor Baker signed the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”). Once the Act takes effect on April 1, 2018, most employers with employees in Massachusetts will be required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for pregnancy and related conditions.
Fisher Phillips • July 28, 2017
Massachusetts just joined 21 other states and the District of Columbia by enacting a comprehensive pregnancy workplace law with unanimous support from the legislature, employee advocates, and the Massachusetts business community. Today, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which will take effect (appropriately enough) in about nine months – on April 1, 2018.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that a newly-hired employee who was terminated because she tested positive for marijuana use can sue her former employer for handicap discrimination. Christina Barbuto suffers from Crohn's disease and her physician had provided her with a written certification allowing her to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Medical and recreational marijuana use is legal in Massachusetts in limited amounts.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 19, 2017
An employee fired after she tested positive for marijuana on a test administered in the hiring process should be able to proceed with her “handicap discrimination” claim under Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination statute, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled. Barbuto v. Advantage Sales & Marketing, LLC, SJC -12226 (July 17, 2017). The Court’s ruling partially overturned the lower court’s decision to grant the employer’s motion to dismiss.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 19, 2017
On July 17, 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously held that an employee may pursue a disability discrimination claim under state law against her former employer for failing to accommodate the employee’s use of medical marijuana. This is the first decision by any state’s highest court to recognize a duty to accommodate medical marijuana users at work.
Ogletree Deakins • July 19, 2017
On July 17, 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a unanimous ruling in Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, allowing medical marijuana users to assert claims for handicap discrimination under the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act. However, in the same ruling, the court also held that the Massachusetts Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana (the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act) does not provide an implied, private right of action by employees against employers. The court also declined to recognize an action for violation of public policy within the context of adverse employment actions against medical marijuana users.
Ogletree Deakins • May 21, 2017
On May 10, 2017, the Massachusetts House, by unanimous vote (150-to-0), passed the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. If enacted, the Act will expand existing protections for pregnant employees in Massachusetts and require employers to provide pregnant women and new mothers with “reasonable accommodations” for their pregnancies and any conditions related to their pregnancies. The bill (House, No. 3680) is expected to pass the Massachusetts Senate and be signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • April 27, 2017
Employers operating in Massachusetts are already aware of the Commonwealth’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law.1 CORI refers to the database of criminal information maintained by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS).
Ogletree Deakins • February 15, 2017
In a decision that could spell trouble for Massachusetts employers, a judge in the Superior Court’s Business Litigation Session recently held that meal breaks count as “compensable working time,” for which employees must be paid, unless the employee is relieved of all work-related duties during the break. In reaching that decision, the court rejected the employer’s argument that the court should apply the more lenient federal standard, under which the compensability of meal breaks depends on whether the break time is spent “predominantly” for the benefit of the employer.
Brody and Associates, LLC • January 23, 2017
Recently, the Governor of Massachusetts signed a new pay equity law that will prohibit employers from inquiring into applicants’ prior salaries. The law goes into effect in July 2018 and it makes Massachusetts the first state in the country to have this type of law.
Ogletree Deakins • January 06, 2017
Massachusetts’s highest court recently issued a decision that impacts the ability of delivery companies operating in the commonwealth to use independent contractors in providing delivery services. In Chambers v. RDI Logistics, Inc., the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that the second prong of the state’s three-pronged independent contractor test is preempted by federal law when applied to motor carriers. Significantly, however, the SJC also ruled that the three prongs of the test are severable and that, even when the second prong is preempted, an employer must satisfy the other two prongs to avoid misclassification liability. The SJC ruling aligns with the First Circuit’s decision in Schwann v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • November 28, 2016
On November 8, 2016 voters answered “yes” to Question 4, approving the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (the “Marijuana Act”). The Marijuana Act goes into effect on December 15, 2016. Massachusetts previously passed a law permitting use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. For more information on the impact of both of these laws on the workplace, including their impact on employer drug testing policies, read our full alert.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • October 10, 2016
In another win for employers with regard to medical marijuana use by employees, a Massachusetts state court rejected a former employee’s legal claims under the state’s medical marijuana law. Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, et al., No. 15-02677 (Mass. Sup. Ct. May 31, 2016).
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • September 21, 2016
On July 14, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment (the “HOME Act”).By amending several existing laws, the HOME Act provides additional support and protections for veterans, members of the Armed Services, and their families. Employers should be aware of two major changes in employment law brought about by the HOME Act, both of which went into effect when the law was signed by Governor Baker and may require changes to your policies, practices, or employee handbook.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 22, 2016
Warehouses and delivery centers in Massachusetts can be opened on Sundays and holidays under a provision in the new economic development law amending the state’s “blue laws.” The Massachusetts blue laws, with a list of 55 exceptions, restrict certain commercial activities on Sundays and holidays. Governor Charlie Baker signed “An Act Relative to Job Creation and Workforce Development” (H. 4569) on August 10, 2016.
Fisher Phillips • August 09, 2016
On August 5, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill governing gig economy rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft – dubbed “transportation network companies” – which implements a novel new background check system, among other things. With this law, Massachusetts will join 34 other states that have passed comprehensive oversight for this new industry. The details of this compromise bill were hammered out between the House and the Senate at the eleventh hour, moments before Massachusetts’s legislative session came to a close on July 31.
Fisher Phillips • August 01, 2016
On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a comprehensive pay equity bill entitled The Act to Establish Pay Equity (the Act). The law establishes significant new employer obligations with respect to pay equity, employer policies, and hiring practices, and also creates serious consequences for violations.
Ogletree Deakins • July 31, 2016
Continuing a trend, Massachusetts is poised to implement major changes to its equal pay laws. Following the lead of California, New York, and Maryland, which each enacted expansive equal pay laws in the last few months, Massachusetts is now nearing issuance of similarly broad legislation that will make litigating such cases significantly less challenging for plaintiffs. As such, Massachusetts employers need to be even more mindful of these new litigation risks and may want to take proactive steps to avoid claims of pay inequity.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 28, 2016
Massachusetts finally may enact non-compete reform legislation. The current session of the General Court, the state’s legislature, ends on July 31, and the House and Senate have passed versions of non-compete reform legislation limiting non-compete agreements that differ on important points. If non-compete reform is to become a reality in Massachusetts, significant compromise will be necessary before July 31.
Ogletree Deakins • July 05, 2016
Employers know all too well that employees sometimes help themselves to documents the employer would like to keep confidential. This is precisely why many employers require employees to sign confidentiality agreements and often impose discipline, including termination, for taking confidential documents. But what if an employee who has filed a discrimination suit against his or her employer takes confidential documents to assist in the case? That is, can an employer subject an employee who engages in “self-help discovery” to discipline for taking confidential information?
Fisher Phillips • June 06, 2016
An important new Supreme Judicial Court decision has paved the way for Massachusetts employees pursuing certain discrimination claims to engage in what the court has dubbed “self-help discovery.” This new variant of “discovery” would permit employees, in certain circumstances, to lawfully take and disclose confidential employer documents before a lawsuit has even begun. This ruling emphasizes the importance of maintaining appropriate security for sensitive documents, including firewalls and other technological barriers.
Ogletree Deakins • June 06, 2016
On May 11, 2016, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued the latest of several decisions supporting and furthering federal preemption of the Massachusetts independent contractor statute for businesses that qualify as motor carriers under the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA). The practical impact of the First Circuit’s decision in Massachusetts Delivery Association v. Healey and the cases that preceded it is that motor carriers, including many delivery businesses, may be able to classify their drivers as independent contractors with a reduced risk of violating the Massachusetts independent contractor statute.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 03, 2016
On February 22, 2016, the First Circuit issued its decision in Schwann v. Fedex Ground Package System, Inc. This decision clarified the extent to which the Massachusetts Independent Contractor statute, G.L. c. 149 § 148B (“§ 148B”), as applied to motor carriers, is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, 49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)(1) (“FAAAA”). Schwann v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3050 (1st Cir. Mass. Feb. 22, 2016).
Jackson Lewis P.C. • February 12, 2016
The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill to amend the state’s Equal Pay Act that would impose more rigorous equal pay obligations on employers by prohibiting certain conduct. The House is considering the bill.
Ogletree Deakins • December 18, 2015
Readers are probably aware that last year, Massachusetts voters approved a new sick leave law that went into effect on July 1, 2015. Many employers with preexisting leave policies, however, took advantage of the so-called “safe harbor” provision in the law and its implementing regulations that allowed those employers to delay full implementation until January 1, 2016, as long as they complied with certain general provisions of the law. This safe harbor expires on January 1, 2016—so employers that relied on the safe harbor rules must now put in place new policies to comply with the sick leave law.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • December 03, 2015
Employers operating under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law “safe harbor” should prepare to fully comply with the Law beginning January 1, 2016.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • June 26, 2015
Effective July 1, 2015, all private-sector employers in Massachusetts must provide their employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year.1 Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Attorney General published proposed regulations concerning the implementation of the new law.2 After receiving comments to those proposed regulations, the Attorney General recently issued final regulations that differ from the proposed regulations in a number of important respects.
Ogletree Deakins • June 25, 2015
As many of you are aware, the July 1, 2015 effective date of the Massachusetts earned sick leave law is looming. In summary, the new law provides that employers of 11 or more employees must provide their Massachusetts employees with job-protected paid sick leave accrued at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, while smaller employers must provide the same amount of unpaid sick leave.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • June 24, 2015
The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued final regulations (“regulations”) regarding the new earned sick time (EST) law. Our recent HRW Alert provides a summary of key provisions of the regulations. Please click the link below to view the full HRW Alert.
Fisher Phillips • June 24, 2015
On June 19, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General published the final regulations concerning the new Earned Sick Time (“EST”) law that will go into effect on July 1, 2015. These final regulations differ somewhat from the draft regulations submitted in April and provide clarification and additional detail to aid with implementation.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • June 15, 2015
On June 10, 2015, the Attorney General’s Office issued an amended safe harbor notice and poster regarding the new Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2015. Check out the link below for a copy of our newest HRW Alert on these updates.
Ogletree Deakins • June 15, 2015
On June 10, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) issued two important new documents for employers concerning implementation of the new earned sick time law that goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The AGO has held public hearings and listening sessions concerning the proposed regulations it issued in April, and has stated that the final regulations will be issued in mid-June of 2015. (AGO representatives targeted June 19, 2015 as the date for issuance of final regulations.) On June 10, the AGO issued two documents that will assist employers in preparing to implement the law.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • June 12, 2015
On June 10, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General issued a Notice of Employee Rights (the "Notice") under the Commonwealth's new earned sick leave law, as well as a document clarifying the scope of the "safe harbor" exemption to that law.
Ogletree Deakins • May 29, 2015
In April 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued two important decisions providing guidance for employers on the scope of Massachusetts’s wage and hour laws. In one decision, the Court held that employers may institute no-tipping policies in the Commonwealth without violating the Tips Act; however, employers must provide notice to customers of their no-tipping policies in order to avoid potential liability for the failure to treat change left by customers as tips. In the other decision, the Court found that taxi drivers are not properly considered independent contractors under the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • May 27, 2015
The Massachusetts Attorney General recently issued a supplemental regulation to the state's new sick leave law that aims to provide a "safe harbor" to Massachusetts employers that had qualifying paid time off ("PTO") policies (including sick, personal, vacation, and/or combined PTO policies) in place as of May 1, 2015. The new regulation is welcome news to employers who are struggling to adopt policies that comply with the new law.
Ogletree Deakins • May 19, 2015
On May 18, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) held the first of several public hearings on proposed regulations concerning implementation of the new earned sick time law passed by Massachusetts voters in November 2014. At that hearing, Attorney General Maura Healey stated that the AGO intends to proceed with implementing the law as of its July 1, 2015 effective date and that the AGO is on track to finalize implementing regulations ahead of that date (AGO representatives targeted June 19, 2015 as the date for issuance of final regulations).
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • May 12, 2015
The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued proposed regulations (“regulations”) regarding the new Sick Leave Law. The regulations do not yet have the force of law. There will be a notice and comment period that lasts until June 10, 2015, and public hearings will be held throughout the Commonwealth. For a summary of key provisions of these regulations check out the full copy of our alert by clicking on this link.
In November, Massachusetts voters approved a paid sick leave ballot measure that will require an employer to provide paid sick leave if it has more than 10 employees, or unpaid sick leave if it has10 or fewer employees. The law is set to go into effect on July 1. However, numerous questions have come up regarding how the new law should be implemented.
Fisher Phillips • May 01, 2015
On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot initiative requiring that all employees be entitled to earn and use up to 40 hours of earned sick time in a calendar year. There were significant ambiguities in the law (as discussed in our previous alert), but the law also enabled the Massachusetts Attorney General to “adopt rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purpose and provisions of this section.” On April 24, 2015, the Attorney General’s office published its proposed regulations implementing this law.
Ogletree Deakins • April 29, 2015
As we detailed in November 2014, Massachusetts voters last fall approved a new law mandating that employers provide earned sick time to their employees. Under the new law, employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick leave for workers and smaller employers must provide unpaid sick time. The law is set to take effect on July 1, 2015, and employers have raised many questions about how the law will be implemented. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) recently issued proposed regulations that provide detailed guidance concerning implementation of the new law. The AGO has scheduled six public hearings to gather public feedback on the regulations and has invited any interested parties to submit written comments on the regulations.
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP • January 23, 2015
Massachusetts has revised the state’s maternity leave law, giving men and women the same rights to take 8 weeks of parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The amended law, An Act Relative to Parental Leave, expands the scope of the Massachusetts maternity leave law, M.G.L. c. 149, Sec. 105D, and changes language in the state’s anti-discrimination law, M.G.L. c. 151B sec. 4(11A), making both laws gender neutral. Governor Deval Patrick signed the new law the day before he left office. The law will take effect on April 7, 2015, 90 days after its enactment.
Ogletree Deakins • January 16, 2015
In one of his last acts as governor, former-Governor Deval Patrick signed into law on January 7, 2015 an amendment to the previous Massachusetts Maternity Leave Law that extends eight weeks of unpaid leave to both male and female employees to care for a newborn, newly placed, or newly adopted child.
Fisher Phillips • January 14, 2015
With very little fanfare or media attention, Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed a bill into law the day before he left office that establishes parental leave in Massachusetts for both female and male employees. Effective April 7, 2015, the new law will replace the current Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MLA), which provides only female employees with eight weeks of job-protected maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Extending parental leave to male employees will require significant policy changes for Massachusetts employers with less than 50 employees, as they are not already covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which applies to both male and female employees.
Fisher Phillips • December 12, 2014
On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot measure to provide earned paid sick leave to employees. Starting on July 1, 2015, employers with more than 10 employees will be required to allow all employees who work in Massachusetts to accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year. Employers with 10 or fewer employees will be required to allow their employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.
Ogletree Deakins • November 25, 2014
In addition to the restrictions on opening in certain New England states, retailers with stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island should also be aware of their obligation to pay their employees holiday pay (i.e., one-and-one-half of their regular rate) for working on state holidays (as well as on Sundays). These premium pay requirements are some of the last vestiges of the New England “blue laws” that regulate commercial activity on “days of rest.” Although these laws have roots stemming back hundreds of years, they are still vigorously enforced today.
Ogletree Deakins • November 17, 2014
In August of 2014, Massachusetts enacted broad reforms of the Commonwealth’s domestic violence laws. As Ogletree Deakins detailed in an August 18, 2014 Massachusetts eAuthority, “Domestic Leave Now Mandated in Massachusetts,” the reforms included a new law that requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 15 days of leave from work during a 12-month period to employees who are victims of domestic abuse or are related to a qualifying family member who is a victim. The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, which is responsible for enforcing this law, recently issued advisory materials about the domestic abuse leave requirement. These guidance documents primarily track the detailed language of the law itself and provide useful summaries of the law. The guidance also provides the Attorney General’s views on certain undefined portions of the law.
FordHarrison LLP • November 13, 2014
Executive Summary: On election day, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative requiring employers to provide sick time to their employees. Absent legislative repeal, the mandatory sick time law will become effective on July 1, 2015.
Ogletree Deakins • November 11, 2014
Over the past several years, many retailers have moved up the start times of their “Black Friday” sales so that they start on Thursday—which is Thanksgiving—instead of Friday. Despite some public disapproval, this move towards an earlier start to the holiday shopping season appears to be here to stay. Retailers with operations in New England should be aware that Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine have laws that prohibit most retailers from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Although these so-called “blue laws” have been relaxed in many respects to allow retailers to open for business on Sundays and certain other holidays (often requiring retailers to pay employees premium pay if they do), the long-standing prohibitions on Thanksgiving and Christmas openings remain in effect for most retailers.
Fisher Phillips • November 06, 2014
On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot measure to provide earned paid sick leave to employees. Effective July 1, 2015, employers with more than 10 employees will be required to allow all employees who work in Massachusetts to accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year. Employers with 10 or fewer employees will be required to allow their employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave.
Ogletree Deakins • November 06, 2014
On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved by a decisive margin (approximately 60 percent in favor) a new measure requiring employers to provide sick leave to all employees (with certain limited exceptions regarding federal or municipal employers). The new law further provides for paid sick leave for workers employed by employers of 11 or more employees. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2015. While many employers provide sick leave (paid or unpaid) to their workers, approximately one-third of Massachusetts employees are not covered by such voluntary programs. As such, this new law will have a significant impact on these employers, and the new statutory scheme impacts employers that currently provide sick leave as well.
Ogletree Deakins • November 05, 2014
On October 23, 2014, the Boston office hosted Commissioner Sunila Thomas-George, Commissioner Charlotte Golar Richie, and General Counsel Constance McGrane of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) at its semi-annual Breakfast Briefing. The MCAD commissioners and general counsel provided helpful information and advice for employers appearing at the MCAD. Here is a summary of the valuable tidbits the MCAD commissioners and general counsel shared with us.
Fisher Phillips • August 20, 2014
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law An Act Relative to Domestic Violence on August 8, 2014.This far-reaching law, which institutes reforms throughout the criminal justice system, mandates that all public and private employers with more than 50 employees must permit employees impacted by domestic violence to take up to 15 days of leave in any 12 month period. This leave may be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion. Employers are not required to grant leave if the employee is the perpetrator of abusive behavior against a family member. Employers are specifically required to notify employees of their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Ogletree Deakins • August 19, 2014
On August 8, 2014, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed sweeping new legislation in the area of domestic violence—M.G.L. c. 260 entitled “An Act relative to domestic violence.” The new law is effective immediately and impacts not only the criminal justice system, but public and private employers in the Commonwealth as well. Under the new law, employers with 50 or more employees must provide employees up to 15 days of unpaid leave in any 12-month period if the employee or a covered family member of the employee is a victim of abusive behavior. Covered employers must notify employees of their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Fisher Phillips • February 13, 2014
A recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision held that employers risk losing trade secrets and confidential information if they do not protect that information from independent contractors. The court held that employers who do not take active steps to protect their proprietary information from disclosure cannot recover from independent contractors who take that information for their own purposes. C.R.T.R. v. Lao
Ogletree Deakins • September 03, 2013
Governor Deval Patrick recently approved the Commonwealth’s 2014 fiscal year budget, which includes provisions repealing both the Fair Share Contribution (FSC) and the Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) form requirements. These requirements were part of the landmark Massachusetts health care reform law in 2006. Their repeal resulted from the upcoming implementation of the federal health care reform, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Ogletree Deakins • September 26, 2012
In August 2012, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that established a series of new legal requirements for temporary staffing agencies and the companies that use their services. The law, called the “Temporary Workers Right to Know Act,” amends existing Massachusetts laws governing the temporary staffing industry in three specific ways by: (1) requiring that staffing agencies provide certain notices and information to all temporary employees; (2) prohibiting staffing agencies and worksite employers from charging certain fees to temporary employees; and (3) regulating the manner in which staffing agencies conduct their business. The new law will take effect on January 31, 2013.
Ogletree Deakins • August 20, 2012
First Circuit Limits Ability to Avoid Class-Wide Arbitration
Massachusetts Federal Court Holds That Websites Can Be Places of Public Accommodation for Purposes of the ADA
New Law in New Hampshire Requires Employers to Disclose Non-Compete Agreements at the Time of Hire or Change of Job
New Developments in Rhode Island
Ogletree Deakins • July 03, 2012
The Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) recently issued final regulations to accompany the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law. The law, which was passed in August 2010, significantly changed the way in which employers screen the criminal histories of applicants and employees. The new regulations, which went into effect immediately, clarify how employers obtain and use criminal history information.
Ogletree Deakins • March 20, 2012
Articles in this issue include: Criminal Record Law Requirements Become Effective May 4; Change in Compensation Voids Massachusetts Non-Compete Agreement; Meal Break Violations Cost A Massachusetts Retailer Almost $500,000.
Fisher Phillips • September 02, 2010
On August 5, 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law "An Act Relative to Economic Development Reorganization" (M.G.L. c. 240, §1, et. seq.), with a stated purpose of providing a business-friendly environment, stimulating job growth, and coordinating economic development activities funded by the Commonwealth. Buried within the Act is a significant amendment to the Massachusetts Personnel Records Statute (M.G.L. c. 149, § 52C). The amended statute, which became effective immediately, now requires that employers provide notice to employees every time certain negative information is placed in their personnel files. This affirmative notice obligation is in stark contrast to prior law, which only required that employers allow employees to review their personnel records at the employee's request.
Ogletree Deakins • August 16, 2010
On August 6, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill making significant changes to the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law. The new law is extensive and contains changes to all aspects of CORI and the state’s mandatory sentencing laws. One of the underlying purposes of the new law is to help rehabilitate people with criminal records by making it easier for them to return to the workplace, while at the same time, encouraging employers to hire them. In order to fulfill that goal, the new law offers protection for employers that rely on criminal record information, limits the information employers can access, and gives specific rights to job applicants with criminal records.
Fisher Phillips • August 16, 2010
On August 6, 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law legislation which overhauls the Commonwealth's Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law. Currently, the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Law prohibits employers from asking questions of job applicants about arrests that do not result in convictions and convictions for certain misdemeanors, but allows questions about felony convictions and about misdemeanor convictions not protected from disclosure.
Ogletree Deakins • September 28, 2009
In the wake of the highly publicized theft of massive amounts of confidential customer information, Massachusetts enacted comprehensive data security legislation intended to prevent unauthorized access to such information. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) has since issued detailed regulations implementing the legislation. Compliance with these regulations is now required by March 1, 2010.
Ogletree Deakins • August 05, 2009
A state appellate court recently ruled that an employer is not liable for the injuries caused by a drunk driving accident involving one of its workers. According to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, although the worker became intoxicated while meeting with his supervisor at a restaurant, his employer did not have a duty of care under a theory of employer host liability.