The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled in Mui v. Massachusetts Port Authority that payment for accrued, unused sick time is not a “wage” under the state wage act, M.G.L. c. 149, s. 148, and therefore a failure to pay for sick time upon a termination of employment is not subject to the Act’s treble damages and other remedies. Importantly, the state’s highest court also reinforced its position that it is not inclined to expand the reach of the Wage Act to types of compensation beyond the express language of the statute.
Gauri Punjabi is an Associate in the firm’s Boston office. She represents clients in employment litigation related to discrimination claims, noncompetition and trade secret issues, and employment contracts, and advises small businesses, large corporations, and nonprofit organizations on discrimination claims brought under federal, state, and local laws and regulations. In addition, Gauri counsels clients on issues including employee terminations, workplace policies, exempt and nonexempt classification, wage and hour issues and audits, and affirmative action plans. She has also provided training on employment laws and workplace diversity to her clients’ management and staff.
As 2017 starts to wind down, Massachusetts employers should start reviewing and revising their employment policies and practices so they are prepared for the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which goes into effect on April 1, 2018 and requires employers with six or more employees to provide written notice to their employees of their right to be free from pregnancy discrimination.
Short of a successful (but highly unlikely) appeal, the Obama-era overtime rule is now officially no longer. That rule would have required employers to pay employees a little more than $47,000 annually to qualify under one of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s white collar exemptions. The rule was already in limbo when a Texas Federal district court judge temporarily prevented its enforcement just before Thanksgiving last year, and now that same judge has struck down the rule permanently just before another major American holiday.
A recent decision by Massachusetts’ highest court provides another reason why employers should carefully review their employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policies. Unless the policy expressly covers counterclaims, employers should be aware that, at least in Massachusetts, the insurer’s “duty to defend” a claim brought by an employee or former employee against the employer will not cover claims that the employer seeks to bring in response against the employee. Continue Reading Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Holds Insurers’ Duty to Defend Does Not Extend to Counterclaims
As all HR professionals and employment lawyers know (even those currently living under rocks), the Department of Labor’s final overtime rule is scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016 – less than two weeks from now. The DOL published the rule back on May 18, 2016 providing employers with nearly 200 days to come into compliance. Many have planned accordingly and are ready to go; others are finally focusing on this issue as the deadline nears. At the same time, questions continue to arise over the rule’s fate. In this post, we discuss the current state of play along with some compliance tips for employers.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently entered the Browning-Ferris saga, filing an amicus brief in support of the new joint employer test articulated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in August 2015. Drawing comparisons to its own joint employer test, the EEOC urges the D.C. Court of Appeals to uphold the NLRB’s pliable, fact-specific test to determine whether an entity sufficiently controls the terms and conditions of an individual’s employment to be a joint employer.
Recently, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) published guidance on gender identity discrimination, which the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act (commonly known as “Chapter 151B”) has prohibited since July 1, 2012. The guidance and statute, however, simply codify the position MCAD has taken since 2001.
Relying on its precedent, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held for the second time this year that the Federal Aviation Administrative Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”) preempts application of the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute, M.G.L. c. 149, Section 148B, to couriers working for Federal Express and other same-day delivery companies. As a result, these companies can continue to save billions of dollars each year in the costs associated with employees, such as overtime, health benefits, and workers compensation insurance
As a recent federal appellate decision confirmed, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require employers to always accommodate a disabled employee. Instead, it is the employee’s burden to first show that he or she can perform the essential functions of the job with said accommodation. Alternatively, if the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the job, he or she may seek, as a reasonable accommodation, a reassignment to a vacant position as long as the employee is qualified for that position. In both cases, the employer is relieved of the accommodation requirement if it can show an undue hardship would result. It was these essential function and vacancy issues that were the focus of the First Circuit’s opinion in Lang v. Wal-Mart Stores.
Last Thursday, Uber settled two closely-watched class actions contesting Uber’s classification of approximately 385,000 drivers in California and Massachusetts as independent contractors as opposed to employees. While the plaintiffs viewed the settlement as a victory, so likely did Uber, as it allows Uber to continue to pursue an on-demand independent contractor service business model. The court, however, still needs to approve the settlement and whether it will do so is not clear. Continue Reading Uber Aims to Settle Two Class Actions; Approximately 385,000 Uber Drivers in California and Massachusetts to Remain Independent Contractors – At Least for Now