As employers reopen their businesses following closures or reductions in operations required during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are grappling with the fraught and complex task of bringing laid-off or furloughed employees back to the workplace. Among the many issues that such employers will need to deal with in onboarding those employees is whether and to what extent they will need to renew their restrictive covenants agreements with employees who had such agreements before the pandemic.
On May 14, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) issued revised draft regulations to accompany the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law. The draft regulations come approximately one year after the DFML published “final” regulations and contain many substantive revisions, likely in response to the numerous public sessions held over the past year.
On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced details of the Baker-Polito administration’s four-phase approach to reopening Massachusetts and released guidelines and requirements for businesses resuming operations. The process will be data-driven and fluid with the expectation that there will be at least three weeks before the start of each phase.
Many employers have national and international workforces. When entering into contracts with employees, inclusion of a choice-of-law provision is important for determining what jurisdiction’s laws will apply if one of the parties breaches the agreement. While Massachusetts generally honors contracting parties’ choice as to which law will govern their relationship, there are exceptions to that general rule. In NuVasive, Inc. v. Day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit enforced a Delaware choice of law provision against a Massachusetts employee and rejected his arguments that one of Massachusetts’s recognized exceptions should apply.
In Theidon v. Harvard University, No. 18-1279 (January 31, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision granting summary judgment for Harvard University as to a female professor’s gender discrimination and retaliation claims.
On February 12, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an opinion with significant implications for Massachusetts employers with commissioned employees.
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.
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.
In 2020, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The following chart lists the states’ (and certain major localities’) minimum wage increases for 2020—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees. The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per
The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to issue updates concerning compliance with the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML). The DFML’s most recent updates address private plan exemptions and how the DFML has reevaluated and revised its internal review process to more efficiently evaluate these applications.
The deadlines for notice to employees and contribution withholdings required by the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) are fast approaching, and employers are encouraged to make sure that they are prepared. Ahead of these important deadlines, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to announce updated guidance on the program.
Following the recently announced three-month delay to notice and contribution requirements, and the announcement of updated template notices and final regulations, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to issue updated guidance on the practical implementation of the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law.
In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the requirement in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that an employee file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before commencing an action in court is not jurisdictional.
On June 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a decision emphasizing that an employer’s well-designed and thorough internal investigations made prior to a termination decision can provide a strong defense to claims, but less carefully conducted investigations do not.
On June 18, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) issued final regulations regarding the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML). This follows months of revisions, public hearings, and comments.
Here is the latest information on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) requirements since our last report on April 17, 2019. As the date for issuing final regulations and starting employer contributions draws near, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to publish updates.
On May 8, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a unanimous opinion holding that salespeople who are paid solely on draws and commissions are entitled to separate and additional overtime and Sunday pay under Massachusetts law. The decision has far-reaching implications for most retailers, which have long relied on opinion letters from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) suggesting that commissioned employees are not entitled to such additional compensation.
In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, No. 16-1466 (June 27, 2018), the Supreme Court of the United States significantly expanded the rights of nonunion public employees by holding that unions may not collect fees from such employees without their consent.
Last year, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law what has been referred to as the “grand bargain” legislation. When it was enacted, we covered some of the law’s key provisions that would have a significant impact on Massachusetts employers, including the phase-in of paid family and medical leave under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML). Since then, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML), a new agency, has been established under the PFML to manage paid leave in the Commonwealth.
On January 29, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision that addressed for the first time whether an employer’s failure to grant an employee’s lateral transfer request could support an employment discrimination claim in the matter of Yee v. Massachusetts State Police, SJC-12485.
In June 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave and the Sales Tax Holiday.
In 2019, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase.
On October 13, 2018, the Massachusetts legislature amended the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law. Many other U.S. territories and localities have passed ban-the-box laws over the last decade that limit employer inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history.
With Massachusetts’s comprehensive noncompete law taking effect on October 1, 2018, many employers are reviewing and likely revising their restrictive covenants to ensure that they are compliant with the new law.
The Massachusetts Legislature has passed legislation governing the use of noncompetition agreements in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the legislation into law by August 10, 2018. Assuming that occurs, the law will codify existing Massachusetts case law to some degree, and it also will go much further in regulating the enforceability of noncompetition agreements, including limiting who may be subject to such agreements.
In the most recent step in a decade-long effort to enact comprehensive noncompete legislation, the Massachusetts Senate on July 25, 2018, passed an economic development bill containing amendments to Chapter 149 of the Massachusetts General Laws to regulate the use of noncompetition agreements.
Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana through a ballot referendum in 2016. As of July 1, 2018, retail marijuana stores are now permitted to operate in the state. The law allows cities and towns to exercise local control to ban or limit marijuana dispensaries, which are now opening in various locations around the state.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker just signed into law the so-called “grand bargain” bill, which contains provisions that will have a significant effect on employers in the state. The law is a compromise designed to avoid potential ballot questions about an increase in the state minimum wage, paid leave, and a reduction in the state sales tax.
The Massachusetts legislature is once again seeking to enact comprehensive noncompetition legislation to rein in the use, and some may argue the abuse, of restrictive covenants in employment agreements.