jump to navigation

Mass. Governor Signs Bill to Raise Minimum Wage 07/24/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

On June 26, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law which will raise the hourly minimum wage in Massachusetts for the first time since 2008. As a result of these increases, Massachusetts’ minimum wage will be amongst the highest in the country. Employers who fail to comply with the minimum wage increase will be in violation of the Massachusetts “Payment of Wages” statute and be subject to mandatory treble (triple) damages, attorney’s fees, and possible criminal penalties.

To learn how and when the minimum wage will change, or why you should comply, please see our full Wage & Hour Tip of the Month.

Please feel free to contact MBBP’s Employment Law Group with any questions.

Upcoming Seminars in Waltham & Cambridge! 07/16/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Employment, Events, Intellectual Property, Legal Developments, MBBP news, Privacy and Data Security.
add a comment

The end of Summer and beginning of Fall are the perfect time to get back into the swing of things! Join us for timely, informative seminars on False Advertising, Sweepstakes & Contests, and Employment Law. Get the details below.

LIMITED SEATING – REGISTER TODAY!

8/12/14 – Unfair Competition / False Advertising: How the Supreme Court’s recent decisions impact false advertising claims against competitors. (Waltham, MA) – In this seminar, we will discuss unfair competition and false advertising under the Lanham Act, the Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc.and POM Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola Co. decisions, and how these decisions may affect your rights against third parties. Complimentary seminar!

9/18/14 – Playing a Game of ChanceUnderstanding the Differences Between Sweepstakes, Contests and Illegal Lotteries. (Cambridge, MA) – Sweepstakes and contests are a great way to promote your business. However, there is a fine line between conducting legal sweepstakes or contests and conducting an illegal lottery. In this seminar, we will discuss what constitutes an illegal lottery, ways to structure contests / sweepstakes to comply with federal & state laws, state registration requirements and penalties for conducting an illegal lottery. Complimentary seminar!

10/17/14 – The Morse CourseEmployment Law Compliance & Risk Prevention for Managers, Supervisors and HR Professionals. (Waltham, MA) – Learn practical information and valuable strategies for avoiding the many traps that lead to expensive and time-consuming HR problems and employment litigation. Group discount available!

Have a different topic in mind? Check our Events Page for additional seminars or email us.

Employment Law Clip: Retaliation Claims and Steps Employers Can Take to Avoid Them 06/17/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, New Resources.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Retaliation is now the most common type of discrimination alleged nationally, topping both race and gender. What are retaliation claims and what steps can employers take to reduce their risks? Check out our most recent Employment Law Clip to learn more:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on retaliation claims.

Employment Law Clip: Salaried Does Not Necessarily Mean Exempt From Overtime 04/28/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

A common misconception is that paying a salary to an employee makes the employee exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In this video Massachusetts Employment Lawyer Maura E. Malone discusses the process of determining whether your employees are exempt or non-exempt and the risks of failing to properly classify them.

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on FLSA Classifications.

Employment Law Clip: Internships – Paid or Unpaid? 04/14/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Student internships have become increasingly popular, and while internships generally benefit employers and interns alike, there is uncertainty regarding whether internships may be paid or unpaid. MBBP Attorney Christopher Perry explains the importance of distinguishing between the nonprofit and for profit sector and the regulations that apply to each:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on paid or unpaid internships.

Wage & Hour Tip: Are Your Commissioned Sales Employees Entitled to Minimum Wage and Overtime? 04/01/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, MBBP news, New Resources.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Many employers use commission payments to increase the productivity of their sales force. Commissioned sales people can earn significant compensation. But, are commissioned sales people also entitled to minimum wage and overtime?  Please see our full Wage & Hour Tip of the Month to learn more.

Please feel free to contact MBBP’s Employment Law Group with any questions.

Employment Law Clip: Employee Terminations Under the MA Wage Payment Law 03/17/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Employment.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Employers, there are some important aspects of the Massachusetts Wage Payment Law that you may not be aware of when firing or laying off an employee or employees. MBBP Attorney Christopher Perry explains what you need to know below:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on Massachusetts wage payment laws.

Employment Law Clip: Pitfalls of Using Independent Contractors 03/03/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Employment.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Many businesses use “independent contractors” to augment their regular workforce. They see advantages to using trained, non-employee workers with specialized skills who can provide needed services on a short-term or long-term basis. However, the ability of businesses to classify workers as independent contractors is not unchecked. Businesses cannot avoid employer obligations simply by designating certain workers as independent contractors.

In this video Massachusetts Employment Lawyer Robert M. Shea discusses the serious danger that independent contractors can pose to a business when they do not comply with government and tax laws and are misclassified as such:

Want more information? Try some of our other resources on this topic:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on independent contractor laws.

MBBP’s Employment Law Clip Series will provide quick, easy-to-digest snapshots of common Employment issues, as well as practical information on how to avoid complicated, expensive and time-consuming pitfalls. Stay tuned for the next topic on Wage Payment Laws: Termination.

Retaliation Once Again Is the Top Type of Claim Filed with the EEOC 02/24/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has released its statistics for fiscal year 2013 and for the fourth straight year charges alleging unlawful retaliation by employers was the leading type of discrimination alleged. Retaliation claims accounted for 41.1% of the charges filed with the EEOC, up three percent from 2012. Retaliation was followed by race discrimination (35.3%), gender, including sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination (29.5%), disability discrimination (27.2%), and age discrimination (22.8%). The EEOC’s enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 1997 through 2013 can be found here.

For more information on this topic please contact any member of our Employment Law Group.

Bob Shea to Moderate SBANE Panel Discussion on Non-Competes 02/07/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Events.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaOn March 6th the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) is presenting a program titled Should Employee Non-Competes Be Banned? Business Forum on Proposed Limits to Non-Competes in Massachusetts. Many businesses require employees to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of employment. Some critics, however, believe the use of non-competes has been abused and should be regulated by statute. MBBP Employment Attorney and SBANE Chair, Bob Shea, will moderate a panel discussion that will include a leading sponsor of proposed non-compete legislation, a Patrick administration point person on the non-compete issues, and business executives. The program will give attendees an opportunity to express views and concerns of businesses regarding the proposed limits and to participate in a serious discussion over how the Commonwealth should proceed on this hotly debated issue.

To learn more or to register for this event, please visit SBANE.

If you have questions on non-competes, please feel free to contact Bob directly or visit our Employment Resources page.

Can you deduct from an Employee’s Pay for a Snow Day? 02/06/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

This winter’s polar vortex and its seemingly unending supply of snow and cold raise the question of how to pay exempt and non-exempt employees when an office closes due to inclement weather, and whether deductions from pay for those closures are permitted.

Can you deduct when the office is closed due to weather?

When an employer is forced to close its business for a full day due to weather conditions, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) does not require that the employer pay non-exempt employees for that day, even if they were scheduled to work, since the employees are unable to provide any work for that day.

The employer may not, however, take a deduction from an exempt employee’s salary for an inclement weather closure without risking the loss of the employee’s exempt status. (N.B., though, that if the closure lasts for one week or more, then the employer does not need to pay the exempt employees for that week).

Can you deduct when the office is partially closed due to weather?

Although federal law does not require that employers pay non-exempt workers during a partial closure, in some circumstances Massachusetts law may. If a Massachusetts non-exempt employee reports to work but there is no work to be performed, or there is less work than the employee was scheduled to perform, the employee is entitled to “reporting pay” of at least three hours pay at the minimum wage. For example, if the office is closed but an employee wasn’t aware of the closure and reports to work, or if the office closes early because of inclement weather, then a Massachusetts non-exempt employee is entitled to reporting pay.

If the employer’s office is closed for only part of the day due to inclement weather, the employer cannot make a deduction from an exempt employee’s salary without losing the employee’s exemption.

Can you deduct when the office is open but the employee is absent due to weather?

The rules shift slightly when the employer remains open for business but an exempt employee is unable to make it into work due to inclement weather.

Nothing changes in this situation for a non-exempt employee; a non-exempt employee does not need be paid for hours not worked, and so an employer may make a deduction for a weather-related absence.

However, the usual rule that an employer cannot deduct from an exempt employee’s wages without risking the loss of the employee’s exemption changes in this situation. The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has advised that when an office is open, but an exempt employee is absent due to inclement weather, the Department of Labor will treat the absence as one for “personal reasons” and the employer may deduct that day’s wages from the employee’s salary without losing the employee’s exemption.

Note, however, that this loophole only applies if the exempt employee takes the entire day off for weather-related reasons. An exempt employee who chooses to leave an hour or two early to get a jump on weather-related traffic should not have a deduction taken – to do so would risk the loss of the exemption.

For more information on how to pay exempt and non-exempt employees when an office closes due to inclement weather, please contact a member of the Employment Law Group.

NLRB Abandons Notice Posting Requirement 01/09/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, New Resources.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

January 2, 2014 was the deadline for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate court decisions. The NLRB chose not to file a petition, thus effectively abandoning the notice posting requirement. (Note that this does not impact the requirement under Executive Order 13496 that non-exempt federal contractors and subcontractors post a notice informing employees of their NLRA rights.) The NLRB’s website now notes: “Appellate courts have enjoined the NLRB’s rule requiring the posting of employee rights under the [NLRA]. However, employees are free to voluntarily post the notice.”

For more information on what this means for employers, please see the full Alert.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of MBBP’s Employment Law Group.

Noncompetition Agreements: Protecting Customer Relationships & Confidential Information 03/20/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Employment, Events, Legal Developments.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

On Tuesday, April 23rd MBBP is hosting a complimentary breakfast program titled “Noncompetition Agreements: Protecting Customer Relationships & Confidential Information“. Employers often ask: “Are our non-compete agreements with employees enforceable?” The answer often depends on whether the employer took the necessary steps to put an effective agreement in place. Courts in Massachusetts generally will enforce reasonable agreements when necessary to protect particular employer interests, such as customer relationships and trade, from misappropriation. On the other hand, courts generally do not enforce non-compete (or non-solicit and non-disclosure agreements) when no real protectable interests are at stake, the restrictions are unreasonable, or the employer has undermined its ability to enforce them.

This Program will identify the steps employers can take to increase the likelihood that a court will enforce its restrictive agreements with employees, provide education and insight into how such agreements are enforced by employers, and de-mystify the litigation process. We will also review recent legal developments that may affect whether the agreements you currently have in place with employees are vulnerable to attack by departing employees.

Our presenters have decades of experience advising employers and litigating cases in this area and we expect that attendees will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program. Through discussion, we expect a very enlightening exchange of practical ideas and a range of employer experiences.

Please visit our event page for more information or to register.

New Regulations Require Use of Updated FMLA Poster by March 8 03/04/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaThe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations which take effect on March 8, 2013. Most of the changes in the regulations relate to the FMLA’s military leave provisions and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act. The regulations require covered employers to post a new, updated poster by March 8. The new poster is available on the DOL’s web site.

The new regulations also make some relatively small changes and clarifications in others areas, including how employers should calculate increments of intermittent FMLA leave. The Department of Labor provides a side-by-side comparison of the prior regulations and the new regulations here.

If you have questions or want more information on the new regulations, you can contact Bob Shea.

Wage & Hour Tip: Understanding the Frequency of Payment Rules 02/26/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, MBBP news, New Resources.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Did you know that an employer who does not pay its non-exempt employees every two weeks may technically be violating Massachusetts law? Read February’s Wage & Hour Tip for more information on payment rules.

Please feel free to contact MBBP’s Employment Law Group with any questions.

New Proposed Massachusetts Non-Compete Legislation Focuses on Duration of Restrictions 02/12/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Employment, Legal Developments.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

Over the past several years legislators in Massachusetts have filed various bills seeking to address perceived employer overreaching in the area of non-competition agreements. According to the legislators, many employers impose non-compete restrictions on employees in circumstances where such restrictions are not appropriate, or impose restrictions that go beyond what might be necessary to protect legitimate business interests (i.e., customer good will, trade secrets and other confidential business information).

Recent bills introduced by Representative (now Senator) Will Brownsberger and Representative Lori Erlich addressed non-compete issues in a fairly comprehensive way, attempting to codify, clarify, and modernize existing common law in Massachusetts. The bills met opposition by some business groups which viewed the bills as trying to place unacceptable limitations on the legitimate use and scope of non-compete restrictions. Although the bills garnered some support, including from employee advocates, the Governor’s office and some journalists, the legislators’ efforts were unsuccessful.

This year, Sen. Brownsberger and Rep. Erlich have presented a bill that focuses only on the duration of non-compete restrictions. The bill, House Bill No. 2221, referred to as “the Noncompetition Agreement Duration Act,” seeks to create a presumption that a non-compete restriction lasting up to six months is reasonable in duration, whereas a non-compete restriction lasting more than six months is presumed unreasonable in duration. The bill provides that a non-compete agreement that is determined by a court to be unreasonable in duration shall be unenforceable.

The bill provides for three exceptions: a non-compete agreement of unreasonable duration will not be unenforceable if (i) the employee has breached a fiduciary duty to the employer, (ii) the employee unlawfully took the employer’s property, or (iii) the employee has received $250,000 in annual taxable compensation from the employer. When one of these exceptions applies, a court could enforce the non-compete agreement for any duration the court determines is appropriate.

We believe the bill will face strong opposition, and its prospects for passage are, at best, uncertain.

If you have questions or want more information on this proposed legislation, you can contact Bob Shea.

MA Employers Should Review Employee Release Language 02/06/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

As we reported in December, in Crocker v. Townsend Oil Company, Inc., the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) provided important guidance to employers concerning releases by employees of claims under the Massachusetts Wage Act, M.G.L. c. 149. The SJC stated in Crocker that a release of claims under the Wage Act will be enforceable only when the release is stated in “clear and unmistakable terms.” The release must be plainly worded and understandable to the average individual and must specifically refer to the rights and claims under the Wage Act that the employee is waiving.

In light of the Crocker decision, employers in Massachusetts are wise to review the release language contained in their forms of employee separation agreement to ensure that language meets the standard set forth by the SJC.

For any questions on this topic, feel free to contact any member of the Employment Law Group.

Retaliation Again Is the Top Claim Filed with the EEOC 02/04/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has released its statistics for fiscal year 2012 and for the third year in a row charges alleging unlawful retaliation by employers was the leading type of discrimination alleged. Retaliation claims accounted for 38% of the charges filed with the EEOC, up one percent from 2011, followed by race, gender, age and disability discrimination. Last month, MBBP’s Employment Law Advisor focused on this dangerous area of employment law and outlined steps employers should take to reduce their legal exposure. January’s Employment Law Advisor is found here.

Please contact Bob Shea with any questions on this topic.

Supreme Judicial Court Rules on Releases of Wage Act Claims 12/19/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Scott ConnollyBy: Scott J. Connolly

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an opinion this week in Crocker v. Townsend Oil Company, Inc., a case that offers important guidance to employers concerning releases by employees of claims under the Massachusetts Wage Act.

A release of Wage Act claims will be enforceable, the SJC held, only when such an agreement is stated in “clear and unmistakable terms.”  In other words, the release must be plainly worded and understandable to the average individual, and it must specifically refer to the rights and claims under the Wage Act that the employee is waiving.

Crocker underscores the importance for employers of proceeding carefully when paying employees extra compensation, such as severance pay, at the time of termination to obtain releases of claims under the Massachusetts Wage Act.

Click here to view the full article.

Massachusetts Continues Its Efforts Against Independent Contractor Misclassification 12/11/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

Massachusetts Governor Patrick’s administration recently announced that it is launching a first-of-its-kind study to examine the scope and financial cost of the Commonwealth’s “underground economy.” Over the next year the study will seek to identify the extent of “employment fraud” by industry category and attempt to determine the amount of money the Commonwealth is losing each year in unpaid taxes. The study will focus on the practice of improperly misclassifying workers as independent contractors, which allows businesses to avoid wage law requirements, unemployment and payroll taxes, and workers compensation insurance and health insurance costs.

Further, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (“EOLWD”) announced that its Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) concluded audits of three business that uncovered $11.5 million in unreported wages, 2,300 misclassified workers, and $2,554,000 in unpaid DUA obligations. DUA credited the Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification (“JTF”) with helping “to bringing the businesses into compliance.” The JTF was established by Governor Patrick in 2008 to coordinate multiple state agencies’ efforts attacking worker misclassification. Please visit MBBP’s resources page to read an article concerning the problems that changes in Massachusetts independent contractor have caused for many businesses.

Feel free to contact Bob Shea with any questions on this topic.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers

%d bloggers like this: