In a landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruled on Monday that an employee who is fired for testing positive for marijuana due to her lawful off-duty use of medical marijuana can pursue a claim of handicap discrimination against her former employer. With the ruling, Massachusetts has become the first state to afford such job protections to workers who lawfully use medical marijuana. Moreover, the ruling essentially precludes Massachusetts employers from adopting blanket drug-free workplace policies.… More
Category Archives: Labor & Employment
Since the beginning of this year’s legislative session, Governor Baker has expressed concern over the growth in enrollment in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. A look at the numbers explains why. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in 2014, there were 1.3 million people enrolled in MassHealth. By April of this year, that number had increased by 28.4%, to nearly 1.7 million state residents.… More
Last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) resolved a contested issue under the Massachusetts Wage Act, ruling that successful Wage Act plaintiffs are entitled to prejudgment interest on the unpaid wages and other benefits they are awarded. However, the SJC held that employees cannot recover interest on the liquidated damages they are awarded for Wage Act violations.
The SJC’s decision in George, et al.… More
On June 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) made two announcements that signal a change of direction for the new Administration. First, the DOL announced in a press release that it would return to its decades-long practice of issuing “opinion letters,” which provide employers formal, written guidance on specific labor law issues. Second, the DOL began the process for seeking public notice and comment on the Obama DOL’s rule increasing the salary threshold for overtime exemptions,… More
On June 7, 2017, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that it is withdrawing the prior Administration’s guidance on joint employment and independent contractors. The Obama Administration had issued Administrator’s Interpretations (“AI”) in 2015 and 2016 that demonstrated its expansive view of who was an “employer” and “employee” for purposes of compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). “Joint employment” had been broadly defined to capture certain relationships between associated companies and companies that use third parties for labor.… More
Beginning on October 31, 2017, questions about a job applicant’s previous compensation, and an employer’s reliance on that information in determining an applicant’s compensation, will constitute unlawful discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law.… More
On March 15, 2017, federal courts in Maryland, Hawaii and Washington heard arguments on motions to preliminarily enjoin the New Executive Order (“New EO”), which was issued by President Trump on March 6, 2017. Judge Derrick K. Watson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii was the first to issue such an order (as described below), which essentially prevents implementation of the New EO’s travel and refugee restrictions.… More
On January 20, 2017, the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a Memorandum on the tax treatment of benefits paid by fixed-indemnity health plans. In the Memorandum, the OCC concludes that payments from fixed-indemnity health plans that are not included in the employee’s compensation, such as those that were paid for either by the employer or through salary reduction as part of a section 125 cafeteria plan,… More
A reminder for Massachusetts employers: effective January 1, 2017, the minimum wage in Massachusetts is increasing from $10.00 to $11.00 per hour.
The minimum rate for tipped service employees is also increasing, from $3.35 to $3.75 per hour. This “service rate” only applies to workers who provide services to customers and regularly receive more than $20 in tips per month. Additionally, their average hourly tips plus the minimum service rate must equal or exceed the $11.00 per hour minimum wage. … More
On November 22, 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction preventing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing its new overtime rule. The rule – which would have raised the salary threshold below which employees must be paid overtime to $47,476/year – was scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016. (The firm’s previous client alert on the rule can be found here.) As a result,… More
On 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
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:
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
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.
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
A few months ago, the so-called Domestic Workers Bill of Rights became law in Massachusetts. The law has not garnered a tremendous amount of attention from employment lawyers, presumably because it only covers “household employers,” who employ domestic workers such as nannies or housecleaners. As a management-side employment attorney and the employer of a wonderful nanny, I have been following this law and the development of associated regulations. … More