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Total Articles: 110

Massachusetts Poised To Up The Ante In Labor Disputes Amid 6-Month Lockout

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?

Massachusetts Ban the Box 2018: Further Amendments to Criminal History and Hiring Law

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.

MA Department of Family and Medical Leave Launches Website

A summary of the Department of Family and Medical Leave's new website and FAQ, including highlights from the employer FAQ page.

Have you HIRD? Massachusetts Employers Must File a Health Insurance Disclosure Form by November 30th

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.

Newly Created Massachusetts Agency Issues First Guidance On Paid Leave Law

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?

MA Implements New Requirement for “HIRD” Form

A summary about the Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (“HIRD”) form and what it means for employers in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Employers, Non-Compete Reform is Here!—How is Your Organization Addressing It?

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.

Upcoming Changes to the Law on Leave for Veterans

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.

Upcoming Changes to the Massachusetts “Ban the Box” Law

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About the New Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act

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).

Massachusetts Enacts Comprehensive Noncompete Agreements Law

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.

Massachusetts Governor Signs Non-Compete Bill Into Law

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.

Massachusetts Jury Returns Unprecedented $28 Million Verdict for Retaliation Claim

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.

Massachusetts Passes Noncompete Reform Legislation

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.

MA Legislature Passes Major Non-Compete Reform Legislation

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.

Non-Compete News: Massachusetts Legislature Passes Non-Compete Legislation

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.

Once More Unto the Breach: Massachusetts Inching Closer to Noncompete Reform

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.

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Comprehensive Noncompete Reform

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.

Massachusetts Non-Compete Law Reaches Governor’s Desk

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.

Massachusetts Legislature (Finally) Passes Non-Compete Law

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.

Massachusetts Noncompete Legislation Moves One Step Closer to Enactment

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.

Navigating the Legalization of Marijuana in Massachusetts: What Employers Need to Know

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.

November 2018 Ballot Question Seeks to Impose Registered Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Limits on Massachusetts Health Care Facilities

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.

The Regular Rate Riddle in the Massachusetts "Grand Bargain" Legislation

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.

Massachusetts Raises Minimum Wage, Mandates Paid Family and Medical Leave

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.

Considerations for Employers in Massachusetts

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.

Massachusetts’s “Grand Bargain” Increases Minimum Wage, Ends Sunday Retail Premium Pay, and Provides Extensive Paid Leave

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:

Massachusetts Increases Minimum Wage, Eliminates Premium Pay For Sunday Work, And Enacts New Paid Leave Program

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.

Big Changes Coming for Baystate Employers: Paid Family & Medical Leave And Minimum Wage Increases

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 Legislature Passes Bill Providing Paid Family Leave, $15 Minimum Wage

Massachusetts legislators have passed a bill that, if signed, would:

It’s Groundhog Day: Massachusetts Legislature Again Proposes Comprehensive Noncompete Law

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.

Massachusetts Equal Pay Act Calculation Tool: What Employers Need to Know

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.

Massachusetts Adjusts Limits on Employer Inquiries into Job Applicants’ Criminal History

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.

Massachusetts Enacts Law Providing Greater Privacy of Health Insurance Information

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Guidance on New Equal Pay Law

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.

Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Update: Commission Guidance and Q&As Available

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.

Massachusetts Legislature Close to Deal on Non-Compete Law?

The Massachusetts Legislature, after a decade of attempts, may pass restrictions on the use of non-compete covenants in the Commonwealth.

Reminder: Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Goes into Effect April 1, 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.

Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Takes Effect on April 1, 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.

Massachusetts High Court Rules that Investors and Board Members are not Personally Liable for Unpaid Wages Under State Law

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.

Massachusetts Veterans May Be Entitled to Paid Leave on Veterans Day

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.”

Preparing for the New Massachusetts Equal Pay Law, Part II: Which Policies to Revise in Light of the Upcoming Effective Date

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.

Updates to Massachusetts Cybersecurity Laws

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.”

Preparing for the New Massachusetts Equal Pay Law, Part I: Whether, When, and How to Conduct a Pay Equity Audit

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.

Massachusetts Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

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.

Massachusetts Strengthens Protections for Pregnant Workers

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.

Massachusetts Expands Employers' Obligation to Accommodate Pregnant Employees

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.

Massachusetts Finalizes New Pregnancy Workplace Law: What to Expect When Your Employees Are Expecting

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.

Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules for Employee Fired for Medical Marijuana Use

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.

Claim of Massachusetts Employee Fired for Medical Marijuana Use May Proceed, State High Court Rules

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.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Creates Employer Obligation to Accommodate Employees Using Medical Marijuana

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.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Groundbreaking Decision Allowing Medical Marijuana User to Assert State Law Handicap Discrimination Claim

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.

Massachusetts House Passes “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act”

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.

New Changes to Massachusetts Regulations on Criminal History Checks

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).

Massachusetts Superior Court Holds That Meal Breaks Are Compensable Unless Employees Are Relieved of All Work-Related Duties

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.

Asking About an Applicant’s Former Salary – a Dangerous Proposition

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.

Massachusetts High Court Rules Prong Two of Independent Contractor Test is Severable for FAAAA Preemption Purposes

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.

Marijuana and the Workplace

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.

Massachusetts State Court Rejects Medical Marijuana Suit

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).

What Employers Need to Know About the Updated Veterans Laws in Massachusetts

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.

Massachusetts Amends Blue Laws to Allow for Operations of Warehouses on Sundays and Holidays

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.

Massachusetts Adopts Background Check System For Rideshare Companies

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.

Pay Equity Becomes Law In Massachusetts

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.

Massachusetts Nearing Enactment of Sweeping Pay Equity Legislation

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.

Down to the Wire for Proposed Non-Compete Reform Legislation in Massachusetts

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.

Can Employers Discipline Employees for “Self-Help Discovery”? Massachusetts Decision Raises More Questions Than Answers

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?

Massachusetts Employers: Protect Your Documents

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.

First Circuit Affirms FAAAA Preemption of Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law

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.

First Circuit: FAAAA Preempts Massachusetts’ Contractor Law

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).

Massachusetts Moves Closer to Toughening Pay Equity Requirements

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.

Massachusetts Sick Leave Law—Full Compliance Deadline Looming

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.

Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law: Safe Harbor Expires December 31, 2015; Full Compliance Deadline is January 1, 2016

Employers operating under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law “safe harbor” should prepare to fully comply with the Law beginning January 1, 2016.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Final Sick Leave Regulations

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Final Earned Sick Leave Regulations With Substantial Revisions

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Final Regulations on the New Sick Leave Law

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Publishes Final Earned Sick Time Regulations

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.

Mass. Attorney General Issues Amended Safe Harbor and Poster Regarding the Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave Law

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Revised "Safe Harbor" Delaying Full Implementation of New Earned Sick Time Law and Required Posting

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Required Notice of Employee Rights and Clarifies the "Safe Harbor" Exemption

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.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Two Significant Opinions for Employers

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Creates a "Safe Harbor" From the Requirements of the Massachusetts Sick Leave Law

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.

Massachusetts AG Announces Safe Harbor Delaying Full Implementation of New Earned Sick Time Law for Some Employers

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).

HRW Alert: Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations on the New Sick Leave Law

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.

Massachusetts AG Issues Proposed Paid Sick Leave Regulations

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.

Massachusetts AG Issues Proposed Regulations Concerning Earned Sick Time

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations on Implementation of New Earned Sick Time Law

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.

Massachusetts Employers Now Required to Grant Parental Leave to Men and Women (PDF)

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.

Massachusetts Enacts Parental Leave for Both Mothers and Fathers

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.

New Massachusetts Parental Leave Law Extends Protections to Male Employees

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.

Paid Sick Leave in Massachusetts: Complying with Evolving and Overlapping Laws

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.

Retailers Can Avoid Holiday Headaches in New England by Complying With Holiday Pay Laws

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.

Massachusetts Attorney General Issues Guidance on New Domestic Violence Leave Law

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.

Massachusetts Voters Say "Yes" to Mandatory Sick Time

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.

New England Employers Beware Holiday Opening Bans

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.

Earned Sick Leave Becomes Law in Massachusetts

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.

Massachusetts Voters Approve Paid Sick Leave Measure

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.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Provides Tips For Employers

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.

Domestic Violence Leave Becomes Law in Massachusetts

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.

Domestic Violence Leave Now Mandated in Massachusetts

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.

State Court Holds Employers Must Protect Trade Secrets From Independent Contractors

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

MA Fair Share Contribution, HIRD Repealed in FY2014 Budget

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).

Significant Changes in the Regulation of Temporary Staffing Coming to Massachusetts in 2013

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.

Massachusetts eAuthority (August 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

Massachusetts Criminal Record Regulations Finalized

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.

Massachusetts eAuthority (March 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.

Recent Amendment To Massachusetts Law Regarding Personnel Records Places New Affirmative Obligation On Employers.

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.

Massachusetts CORI Amendments Require Employers to Take Close Look at Job Application Process.

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.

New Law Restricts Ability Of Massachusetts Employers To Ask About Criminal Convictions.

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.

Massachusetts Data Privacy Law – Compliance Deadlines Nearing.

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.

Employer Not Liable for Injuries Caused by Intoxicated Employee.

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.
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