In Burnett v. Ocean Properties, Ltd., et al., the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict for the plaintiff in his failure to accommodate claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA). The court’s opinion provides a useful reference for the “single integrated employer” test for liability under the ADA. More significantly, it is an important reminder for employers regarding how seriously to evaluate accommodation requests, how promptly to respond to them, and how informed employees should be throughout the process. The First Circuit’s ruling shows that the consequences of failing to adequately respond to accommodation requests could lead to a finding that the employer acted with reckless indifference and is liable for punitive damages.
On February 12, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an opinion with significant implications for Massachusetts employers with commissioned employees.
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.
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.
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 March 1, 2018, the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) issued detailed guidance on the amendments to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA), which are set to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The amendments, which were enacted in 2016, will overhaul MEPA, a law that has been in effect for over 70 years, and make it one of the strictest pay equity laws in the nation.
Massachusetts employers are reminded that, per legislation signed by Governor Charlie Baker in July 2016, qualifying veterans scheduled to work on Veterans Day who wish to participate in Veterans Day activities in their communities may be entitled to paid leave from their employers to do so.
We recently reported on the sweeping pay equity legislation that garnered much attention throughout the most recent legislative session in Massachusetts. After much anticipation, this week Governor Charlie Baker signed the Act to Establish Pay Equity, a significant law that will affect all employers with employees in the state. The final version of the law will go into effect on July 1, 2018, giving employers ample breathing room to analyze and assess their compliance and consider conducting pay equity self-evaluations as outlined in the law.
As we recently anticipated, on August 1, 2016 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law sweeping legislation that significantly modifies Massachusetts’s equal pay laws. Many consider the new law to be the most comprehensive and aggressive pay equity law in the nation. The law as signed is substantially similar to that discussed in our July 29 blog post, but contains some relatively minor language revisions and technical changes to the new affirmative defense afforded to employers that conduct internal pay equity audits.
Continuing a trend, Massachusetts is poised to implement major changes to its equal pay laws. Following the lead of California, New York, and Maryland, which each enacted expansive equal pay laws in the last few months, Massachusetts is now nearing issuance of similarly broad legislation that will make litigating such cases significantly less challenging for plaintiffs.
Maryland recently passed into law sweeping revisions to its existing equal pay law. The new law, signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016, will take effect on October 1, 2016. With the passage of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, Maryland joins California and New York in expanding pay equity protections. The act significantly amend the current statute, Md. Code, Labor and Employment, §3-301, et seq. and expands both the scope of the law and its remedies.
Massachusetts voters approved a new sick leave law that went into effect on July 1, 2015. Many employers with preexisting leave policies, however, took advantage of the so-called “safe harbor” provision in the law and its implementing regulations that allowed those employers to delay full implementation until January 1, 2016, as long as they complied with certain general provisions of the law. This safe harbor expires on January 1, 2016—so employers that relied on the safe harbor rules must now put in place new policies to comply with the sick leave law.
The July 1, 2015 effective date of the Massachusetts earned sick leave law is looming. In summary, the new law provides that employers of 11 or more employees must provide their Massachusetts employees with job-protected paid sick leave accrued at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, while smaller employers must provide the same amount of unpaid sick leave. The law permits employees to take sick leave for the following…
On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved by a decisive margin (approximately 60 percent in favor) a new measure requiring employers to provide sick leave to all employees (with certain limited exceptions regarding federal or municipal employers). The new law further provides for paid sick leave for workers employed by…..
Effective January 1, 2014, a new law in Rhode Island will ban employers from inquiring on job applications about the criminal histories of applicants. Under the new law, most employers will have to wait until at least the first job interview to ask about convictions. Rhode Island law previously only…..
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently addressed a significant issue to Massachusetts employers—whether general releases can bar employees from bringing Wage Act claims against their employers. Crocker v. Townsend Oil Co. Inc., No. SJC-11059 (December 17, 2012). Charles Edward Crocker and Joseph Barrasso worked as delivery truck drivers for Townsend Oil…..
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee recently signed into law legislation entitled the “Homeless Bill of Rights.” Specifically, the new law protects individuals solely because of their homeless status in a variety of ways. The most significant protection, from an employer’s perspective, is that the statute effectively creates a new protected category for purposes of employment discrimination.
A recent settlement of almost $500,000 to resolve allegations of meal break violations between a San Francisco based children’s clothing retailer and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of the Massachusetts meal break law. The Gymboree Corporation agreed to pay $463,600 to resolve all outstanding claims raised by the Attorney General.
On November 16, 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed a transgender anti-discrimination bill, which Governor Deval Patrick is expected to sign into law this week. If the bill is signed by the Governor, “gender identity” will become a protected category under Massachusetts non-discrimination statutes. The new law also will add gender identity as a protected category to several laws intended to protect people from hate crimes and harassment.