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Massachusetts Wellness Tax Credit Incentive Now in Effect 01/18/2013

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Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

As we previously reported, Massachusetts enacted legislation last August giving smaller employers a tax credit of 25% of the costs associated with implementing wellness programs for their employees, up to $10,000 per year. The wellness tax credit incentive became effective on January 1, 2013. Under a proposed emergency regulation published this month by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the credit is available to Massachusetts-based employers with up to 500 employees (if the majority of employees work in Massachusetts).

The credit applies to wellness programs that promote “a healthy workplace environment and health workplace habits.” Under the proposed regulation, programs must be based on “a health-risk assessment of the workforce” and can include programs focused on dietary change, smoking cessation, accident and disease prevention, and other such programs intended to improve “participants’ physical and mental health and well-being.”

The proposed regulation contains details on the application and certification process, and other related matters. See the Wellness Tax Credit Incentive here.

For any questions on this topic, please feel free to contact Bob Shea.

MBBP Obtains Successful Non-Compete Ruling 10/23/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Employment, Legal Developments.
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Employment Attorney Christopher PerryLast week, MBBP Employment Attorneys Chris Perry and Maura Malone successfully opposed a motion for preliminary injunction to enforce restrictive covenants against three sales executive clients based on the material change doctrine. In Akibia, Inc. v. Jeffrey Hood, Ryan Gavigan and Charles Krueger (Mass. Super. Ct. 10/9/2012), Judge Jeffrey A. Locke ruled that the non-compete agreements each former employee had signed at Akibia were likely voided by material job changes that included Labor and Employment Attorney Maura Malonepromotions, demotions, increases and decreases in compensation, changes in responsibilities and sales territories, and changes in the employer’s sales strategies and product offerings. As such, Judge Locke denied Akibia’s motion to prevent Hood, Gavigan and Krueger from working for their current employer, IOvations. Judge Locke did not address language in the three employees’ non-compete agreements, which stated that their obligations under the non-compete would continue regardless of any job changes, plainly implying that such language did not influence his case analysis.

Please visit our practice page to learn more about our employment group.

Bob Shea to Present at MCLE Employment Law Conference 10/05/2012

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Employment Attorney Bob SheaOn December 14, 2012, MBBP Attorney Bob Shea will be presenting at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education’s 15th Annual Employment Law Conference. Bob will lead a discussion concerning recent changes to the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (“CORI”) law. The changes extend eligibility for access to the CORI database to all employers but also put strict notification, paperwork, and records retention requirements on employers who access and use CORI records.

For more information, please see MBBP’s Employment Law Advisor on the CORI law.

Feel free to contact Bob with any questions on employment law.

Employment Attorney Scott Connolly Rejoins MBBP 09/05/2012

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Employment Attorney Scott ConnollyMBBP is pleased to welcome back Scott Connolly to our firm and our growing employment law practice. Scott has broad experience, both as in-house and outside counsel, helping employers achieve their business objectives while complying with federal and state employment laws. For more than 10 years, he has guided employers through the full spectrum of issues that arise from the employment relationship, including those issues most likely to lead to litigation such as wage/overtime disputes, employee discipline and performance problems, sexual harassment and other workplace investigations, terminations, and reductions in force. Scott focuses on providing employers with practical advice, protective policies, key employment agreements, and workplace training to prevent expensive and resource-consuming litigation and to help businesses protect their customer relationships and intellectual property.

Scott also has extensive employment litigation experience and has successfully tried cases through jury verdict. He regularly represents clients before state and federal courts and agencies, including the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Labor, in cases involving claims of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage-hour violations, and litigation involving non-competition and trade secret matters.

For more information on our labor and employment law practice, please visit our practices page.

Please contact Scott with any employment law questions.

A Guide to Employment Applications in MA 07/16/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments, New Resources.
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Some employers view employment applications as simple, standard forms used to obtain only basic background information from job candidates. Others see them as a tool to obtain more extensive information used to evaluate and potentially screen out prospective employees. Massachusetts employers need to know that there are some very specific requirements regarding both what must be contained in application forms and what is prohibited. Further, we believe employers also should use employment applications to establish and protect employer rights.

What may be asked in an employment application is heavily regulated. Read this edition of the Employment Law Advisor to learn how you can use employment applications to establish and protect your legal rights. And of course, we’re always here to help – feel free to contact a member of our Employment Team!

Bob Shea to Speak at SBANE Human Capital Series Event 12/20/2011

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Employment, Events.
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Employment Attorney Bob SheaOn January 10th the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) is presenting a  2012 Legal Update as part of their Human Capital Series. The event includes discussion led by two employment attorneys, one of whom is MBBP Attorney and SBANE Board member, Bob Shea. Bob will provide information on developments in employment law, including new legislation and court decisions that will affect companies and their HR practices.

To learn more about the event or to register, please visit SBANE.

Employment Updates:MA Maternity Leave Act; MA Wage Act 11/15/2011

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MBBP has released a new Employment Law Advisor (ELA) which covers the topic of employer obligations under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) and highlights some of the risks and confusion it creates. Though much shorter, simpler and limited in scope than its federal counterpart, the Family and Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”), the MMLA has a few nuances of its own and creates some traps for the unwary. Please visit our resources page for this Employment Law Advisor.

MBBP has also released a new Employment Law Alert which discusses a recent decision, Dow v. Casale (No. 10-1343-BLS1), which held that the Massachusetts Wage Act applies to an employee who lives and works outside of Massachusetts, so long as the out-of-state employee has “sufficient contacts” with Massachusetts. Click here to read the full alert.

For more information on the MMLA or the Massachusetts Wage Act, please contact our employment attorneys Bob Shea or Chris Perry.

If you would like to be added to our ELA mailing list, please contact Jaclyn Jefgood.

Bob Shea Testifies at Massachusetts State House 11/07/2011

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Employment Attorney Bob SheaOn November 3rd MBBP Employment Attorney Bob Shea testified before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development in support of legislation to amend the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law. Bob, who testified on behalf of the Smaller Business Association of New England, has advised numerous clients and  written articles concerning problems the current law has caused for many businesses in Massachusetts.

Please feel free to contact Bob Shea for any questions regarding the Independent Contractor Law.

MBBP Welcomes Three New Attorneys 10/12/2011

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Labor and Employment Attorney Maura MaloneMBBP is pleased to announce the addition of three new attorneys, Maura Malone, David Fazzolare and Scott Bleier who have joined the firm as associates. Maura concentrates her practice in labor and employment law. Prior to joining Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, she worked for Malone Law LLC and served as a pro-tempore administrative law judge for the Mississippi Department of Unemployment Security, where she adjudicated unemployment benefits hearings.

Patent Attorney David FazzolareDavid is a registered patent attorney whose practice focuses on the strategic development of worldwide intellectual property portfolios, with a particular focus on preparing and prosecuting patent and trademark applications in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. He has experience performing intellectual property due diligence, including prior art searching, and patentability, freedom-to-operate, and non-infringement analyses. Prior to joining MBBP, David worked as a patent attorney and associate at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and as a patent agent at Myriad Genetics, Inc.

Corporate Attorney Scott BleierScott is a corporate attorney whose practice focuses in the areas of general corporate and securities law with a special emphasis on private securities offerings, venture capital transactions, private equity financings and mergers and acquisitions, as well as general corporate representation of emerging growth companies ranging from start-ups to publicly held entities.

His experience includes representation of entrepreneurs and companies in the IT services, Internet and software fields in both domestic and international transactions. Prior to joining MBBP, he served as an associate in the corporate practice group at DLA Piper LLP (US) and in the business practice group at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault LLP.

Please feel free to contact Maura, David or Scott directly.

NLRB Delays Deadline for Posting Notice Concerning NLRA Rights 10/07/2011

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
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On September 6, 2011, MBBP notified clients that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had published a new rule requiring that employers post a notice to employees informing them of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), including rights to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form and join a union, and to bargain collectively. The rule was to take effect on November 14, 2011.

The NLRB has now announced that it is postponing the implementation date for the notice-posting rule by two months (toJanuary 31, 2012) in order “to allow for enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium sized businesses.”  The NLRB states further in its public notice that “[t]he decision to extend the rollout period followed queries from businesses and trade organizations indicating uncertainty about which businesses fall under the Board’s jurisdiction, and was made in the interest of ensuring broad voluntary compliance.”  Interestingly, the NLRB’s October 5, 2011public notice announcing the delay makes no mention of the legal actions filed by various business groups challenging the NLRB’s authority to publish the notice-posting rule.

We will alert you to any further developments.

Please feel free to contact a member of our Employment Practice with any questions or concerns.

Employment Law Advisor: Sexual Harassment Policies in Massachusetts 09/14/2011

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Clean Tech, Client News, Legal Developments, MBBP news.
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MBBP has released a new Employment Law Advisor (ELA) which covers the topic of Sexual Harassment Policies in Massachusetts. Massachusetts law requires covered employers to adopt and distribute sexual harassment policies containing specific provisions. Beyond this legal requirement, the use of a well-crafted, properly disseminated policy, combined with other preventive efforts, can significantly reduce an employer’s exposure to harassment claims. This ELA discusses Massachusetts requirements for employers, drafting tips for sexual harassment policies and anti-harassment training.

This Employment Law Advisor can be found on our resources page. For more information on sexual harassment policies in Massachusetts, please contact our employment attorneys Bob Shea or Chris Perry.

If you would like to be added to our ELA mailing list, please contact Jaclyn Jefgood.

Employment Attorney Bob Shea Rejoins MBBP 09/12/2011

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Employment Attorney Bob SheaMBBP is pleased to welcome back Bob Shea to our firm and our growing employment law practice. Bob has counseled and represented clients on labor and  employment law matters for over 25 years. Bob’s practice includes working with clients to develop best practices, drafting and negotiating employment agreements, independent contractor agreements and separation agreements, and advising clients on discipline and discharge, harassment, wage-hour compliance, disability, non-competition, and reduction-in-force matters. Bob represents clients before federal and state courts and administrative agencies in cases involving claims of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of employment/non-competition agreements, and wage-hour violations. In addition to his work for clients, Bob serves as an arbitrator and mediator, engaged by businesses and individuals to resolve employment contract disputes and statutory claims. He has served on the American Arbitration Association’s panels of employment law arbitrators and mediators since 1995.

For more information on our labor and employment law practice, please visit our practices page.

Please contact Bob with any employment law questions.

Proposed Employment Law Would Create New Protected Class: The Unemployed 08/24/2011

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
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Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

Bills recently introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate would make it illegal for employers and employment agencies to screen out unemployed job seekers. The proposed law, called the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, would make it unlawful for employers (1) to refuse to consider for employment or to offer employment to an individual because of the individual’s status as unemployed; (2) to publish in print, on the Internet, or in any other medium, an advertisement or announcement for any job that includes any provision stating or indicating that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job; or (3) to direct or request that an employment agency take an individual’s status as unemployed into account in screening or referring applicants for employment. Employers and employment agencies that violate the law would be liable to affected individuals for lost pay and benefits, other actual monetary losses, or a penalty of $1,000 per violation per day, whichever is greater, potential liquidated damages, as well as interest, attorney’s fees and costs. The House version of the bill can be found at OpenCongress.

Like other employment laws, the proposed legislation is well-intentioned. However, the legislation would significantly affect how businesses evaluate job candidates and would create a broad new source of employment-related legal claims. MBBP will follow the progress of the legislation.

For more information on this legislation, please contact Bob Shea.

Bob Shea Discusses Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law on WBUR 07/12/2010

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Employment Attorney Bob SheaIn a recent news story on WBUR 90.9FM, Attorney Bob Shea was interviewed on the Independent Contractor Law in Massachusetts and how it is adversly affecting freeland writers and artists. Bob describes the Massachusetts law in the report:

It’s a law that went into effect in 1990. It was tweaked in 2004 to deal with a concern about the use of independent contractors in the construction area, and the tweak has had a lot of unintended consequences.

To learn more on the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law, or to read the full transcript of the report, please visit WBUR.org.

For any questions regarding Employment issues, please contact Bob Shea.

Robert Shea to Speak at SBANE Seminar 01/13/2010

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Employment Attorney Bob SheaIn February, the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) HR Committee is presenting “2010 Legal Update” seminar to bring employers up to speed on recent developments in employment law. This seminar will cover topics such as complying with wage-hour and independent contractor rules, utilizing non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements, and modifications to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Three speakers, including MBBP Employment Attorney Robert Shea, will lead the discussion through an interactive format.

The seminar is to be held Thursday, February 11 and runs from 7:30-10:00. To register for the event, please visit SBANE.

For questions regarding Employment Law, please contact Robert Shea.

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