Massachusetts Enacts New Pay Equity Law

Decorative Scales of JusticeOn August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the Pay Equity Act (the “Act”) into law. The Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018, is designed to close the wage gap between men and women. Although Massachusetts already had a pay parity law that prohibits wage discrimination, the Act provides greater clarity on what constitutes unlawful pay discrimination and imposes new rules and restrictions on employers.… More

Watch: Labor & Employment Webinar

The past year has been busy in the labor and employment law field. Foley Hoag recently presented a webinar detailing the latest legal developments.

Watch the recording:

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Topics discussed include:

  • Upcoming changes to the overtime regulations
  • The expansion of the “joint employer” doctrine
  • The increasingly aggressive EEOC
  • Legislative initiatives to change non-compete law
  • Pay equity laws
  • Current issues in immigration laws

Speakers:

To download a copy of the slides, please click here.

Massachusetts House Passes Significant Noncompete Reform Bill

On June 29, 2016, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a comprehensive noncompete reform bill by a vote of 149-0.  Given that the Senate last year passed a somewhat similar bill (but the legislation stalled on the House side), it seems quite likely that a new noncompete law will be passed by the legislature before the close of the current session on July 31.  Whether the Governor will sign it is uncertain.  … More

State Attorneys General Send Requests for Information on Retailers’ Use of On-Call Shifts

In a continued effort to end the practice of using “on-call shifts,” several state attorneys general, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, sent letters last week to 15 national retailers requesting information about their use of “on-call shifts” to staff their businesses.

As we reported last June, AG Schneiderman sent letters seeking similar information about the use of “on-call shifts” to 14 major retailers last year.… More

Supervisors Can Be Individually Liable Under the FMLA

downloadWe are going to take a brief trip to New York to explore a new case that has important implications for Massachusetts employers.  Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit joined other circuit and district courts in holding that supervisors may be held individually liable for violating the FMLA.  The Second Circuit’s decision on this issue makes it likely that courts in Massachusetts will adopt the same position when given the chance.… More

The SJC Complicates Summary Judgment Standard in Discrimination Cases

Late last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision addressing a plaintiff’s evidentiary burden in employment discrimination cases brought under the Massachusetts anti-discrimination law, Chapter 151B.  Breaking with precedent under federal anti-discrimination law, the SJC held in Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hospital that a plaintiff employee can defeat a motion for summary judgment by offering evidence that the defendant employer’s stated reason for its allegedly discriminatory action was false. … More

Non-Compete Reform Finally May Be Coming to Massachusetts

After falling off the radar recently, it appears that non-compete reform is back on the agenda on Beacon Hill.  As reported by the Boston Globe, in a March 2, 2016 speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo voiced support for placing restrictions on non-competition agreements.  Among the measures advanced by DeLeo were: (1) limiting the duration of non-competes to 1 year;… More

Massachusetts Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2016

A reminder for Massachusetts employers: effective tomorrow, January 1, 2016, the minimum wage in Massachusetts is increasing from $9.00 to $10.00 per hour.

The minimum rate for tipped service employees is also increasing, from $3.00 to $3.35 per hour. However, employers may only rely on this lesser minimum rate for service employees if they regularly receive more than $20 in tips per month and their average hourly tips plus the minimum service rate equals or exceeds the $10.00 per hour minimum wage.… More

Smoking Gun Evidence or Just a Responsible HR Professional?

Human resources professional play an important role in the workplace by helping front-line managers to understand the discrimination law. Last week, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a decision that could be seen as undermining that role, concluding that notes of a telephone call with a human resource consultant might be evidence of pretext. In Wagner v. Baystate Health Inc., the Appeals Court reversed the grant of summary judgment to the employer on Robert Wagner’s claim that Baystate fired him in retaliation for assisting his wife (who was also a Baystate employee) in filing a claim with the MCAD.… More

Has Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana Use Gone Up in Smoke in Massachusetts?

Since Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana, employers have wondered whether the new law would force them to change their drug testing practices. Currently, Massachusetts employers are allowed to conduct post-offer pre-employment drug tests on job applicants and lawfully refuse employment to those who test positive for marijuana use. But, if marijuana is now legal for medical purposes, can employers lawfully discriminate against employees who smoke marijuana to treat medical conditions?… More