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MA AG's Fair Labor Division Publishes COVID-19 FAQ

Recently, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division (“FLD”), which enforces the state’s wage and hour laws, published its answers to frequently asked questions (“FAQ”) that the FLD has been receiving from both employers and employees in the wake of COVID-19. The FAQ covers the following important issues:

MA Governor Orders Closing of Non-Essential Workplaces & Facilities

On March 23, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13: “Order Assuring Continued Operation of Essential Services in the Commonwealth, Closing Certain Workplaces, and Prohibiting Gatherings of More Than 10 People” (the “Order”). Please click here for a copy of the Order.

Massachusetts Governor Orders All Nonessential Businesses and Organizations to Close Facilities

On March 23, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an Order requiring all nonessential businesses and organizations to close their physical workspaces and facilities to customers, workers and the public. This Order came days after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported the state’s first death from COVID-19. A copy of the Governor’s Order is here.

New Emergency Regulations Enable MA Workers Experiencing Temporary Lack of Work Caused by COVID-19 to Collect Unemployment Benefits

The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has issued emergency regulations (430 CMR 22.00 et seq) enabling employees who have been placed on “standby status” by their employer to be eligible for unemployment benefits. It is assumed that “standby status” includes both lay-offs and furloughs, so long as the employee has an “expected return to work date.”

Treble Ahead? SJC Opinion Offers Damages Caution for Massachusetts Employers With Commissioned Employees

On February 12, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an opinion with significant implications for Massachusetts employers with commissioned employees. In Parker v. EnerNOC, Inc. (SJC-12703), the SJC held that (1) unpaid commissions lost as a result of retaliation are subject to trebling under the Massachusetts Payment of Wages Act (Wage Act); and (2) an employer cannot rely on a requirement of continuous employment as a contingency to pay commissions due, at least when the employer itself creates circumstances that prevent the employee from meeting the continued employment contingency.

Massachusetts High Court Clarifies Standards for Judicial Review of Anti-Raiding Provisions in Restrictive Covenants

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the Commonwealth’s highest court, recently clarified the standards applicable to analyzing nonsolicitation and anti-raid restrictive covenants following the sale of a business—an area of law where state appellate court jurisprudence had been lacking.

Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Quarterly Returns Due by January 31, 2020

Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) released guidance on how to report wages paid under the state Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML) for employers’ fourth quarter 2019 PFML return. This guidance was released to ensure covered employers can properly and timely file and remit contributions in advance of the quarterly deadline of January 31, 2020.

Massachusetts High Court Upholds Enforcement of Employee Non-Solicitation Covenant

Over the past few years, legislators and government agencies at both the state and federal levels have pushed reforms limiting the use of non-competes and other restrictive covenants by U.S. businesses. Some of those efforts have extended to covenants that restrict a party’s ability to solicit and/or hire employees who are not party to the agreements in question.

Anti-Raiding Provision Upheld by Massachusetts High Court

Restrictive covenant matters rarely make it through the appellate courts. This is true for a number of reasons, including the fact that the time-sensitive nature of restrictive covenant litigation often compels parties to achieve a resolution before their case can work its way through the court system. The dearth of appellate case law is even more pronounced for anti-raiding covenants, which appear to provoke fewer lawsuits than non-compete and customer non-solicitation covenants.

New Year, New Laws – What’s Ahead For Massachusetts Employers In 2020?

As we look forward to the New Year, Massachusetts employers should be aware of upcoming changes to the Commonwealth’s employment laws that took effect on January 1, 2020, as well as possible changes we foresee on the horizon. Now is also the perfect time to ensure you are in compliance with laws that took effect in 2019.
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