Today we continue with our Year in Review segment, which looks at the key labor & employment law developments from 2016 in New York, the DC Metro Area, Massachusetts, and California, while offering our thoughts on 2017. Last week we covered New York and the DC Metro Area.  Now we turn to Massachusetts.  In addition, please join us in NYC on April 6, 2017 for Mintz Levin’s Third Annual Employment Law Summit as we address some of the key labor & employment issues impacting employers in 2017.  Register here.

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2016 Massachusetts Employment Law Year in Review

From case law interpreting one of, if not, the most employee-friendly independent contractor statute in the country to Beacon Hill’s efforts to pass non-competition agreement reform, Massachusetts is certainly no stranger to key developments in the labor and employment arena. This blog post highlights the 2016 case law and legislative efforts about which every Massachusetts employer should be aware, and provides insight over what to watch for as we move our way along through 2017 and beyond.

Continue Reading 2016 Massachusetts Employment Law Year In Review

If your company operates in a territory covered by the 4th circuit (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) and requires employees to sign a noncompete agreement with language similar to the following, it may be time to consider revising the agreement:

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Decision Reminds Employers That Overbroad Noncompete Agreements May Not Be Enforceable

We have co-authored an alert with our affiliate government relations consulting group, ML Strategies entitled, “Massachusetts State Legislature Takes Action on Major Employment Reform as Legislative Session Ends”, which addresses key legislation concerning pay equity, transgender anti-discrimination, non-compete agreement reform, credit checks reform and wage theft. The alert provides a review of the new laws and their implications for employers.

By Julie Cox, Steve Baddour, Dan Connelly, and Hari Patel

On Wednesday, June 29th, the House passed H. 4434: An Act relative to the judicial enforcement of noncompetition agreements, which includes a number of provisions that have long been discussed as the necessary components of non-compete reform.

Continue Reading Massachusetts House Passes Noncompete Reform

Does this sound familiar: employee disregards a non-compete and joins a competitor; former company calls foul and initiates a lawsuit; parties fight it out, but by the time litigation has run its course, the non-compete period in the underlying contract has expired.  The dispute is moot, right?  Not necessarily according to the Ninth Circuit in Ocean Beauty Seafoods v. Pacific Seafood Acquisition Company.  There, the Court applied the doctrine of equitable extension to tack on a non-compete period to an agreement after the original period had run.

Continue Reading Pescetarian’s Delight: Ninth Circuit Extends Non-Compete Term Beyond Contractual Period

As ubiquitous as limited liability company interests may be these days, litigants are still arguing over whether the sale of LLC membership units is like the sale of stock.  When a stock sale takes place, the new owners of the stock simply fill the shoes of the old stockholders.  In a stock sale, there is no “FICA” restart – the employer identification remains the same, as does nearly everything else associated with the transaction.  An asset sale, on the other hand, involves the actual transmission of tangible or intangible things to an entirely new entity.  The asset transaction invariably results in a FICA restart (a new employer, a new employer identification, and everything that comes with the “newness”) because a different entity (but not always a brand new one) now owns the assets.

Why is this relevant to non-compete agreements?

Continue Reading Purchaser of LLC Units May Enforce Non-Compete Without Employee Consent

By George Atanasov, Julie Cox, and Max Samels

On June 23rd, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development met to consider legislation relating to the legality and enforcement of non-compete agreements. The committee considered five bills on this topic, with the two most prominent being House Bill 1701 and Senate Bill 957, two proposals that prohibit the enforcement of non-compete clauses while permitting nondisclosure and non-solicitation agreements. Senate Bill 169 was also under consideration, which adopts a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which standardizes a company’s legal right to protect their intellectual property.

The potential policy directions discussed at these hearings ranged from moderate reform to a complete ban on non-compete agreements in Massachusetts, the latter largely supported by start-up and venture capital groups. In the reform category, one popular idea involved requiring the employers to disclose if accepting employment would require signing a non-compete at the time of the job offer, rather than on the first day of work. Supporters argue that this would avoid situations where workers may have already terminated their current employment or turned down other offers only to discover that they were ultimately required to sign a non-compete.

Continue Reading Uncertain Future for Non-Compete Agreements in Massachusetts: Legislators Seek Compromise

Written by Jane Haviland with Bret Cohen

Two Massachusetts decisions—including one from the state’s highest court—applied the same standard regarding enforcement of an agreement to arbitrate.  In each case, plaintiffs signed arbitration agreements with another party.  Others that were not a party to and did not therefore sign those agreements sought the protections of the arbitration provision, and the courts required the plaintiffs in both instances to arbitrate their claims even against the non-signatory defendants.  We briefly discuss these cases and the takeaways below.

Continue Reading Surprise! You Get to Arbitrate! Massachusetts Courts Continue to Permit Third Parties to Enforce Arbitration Agreements

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently sent a case back to a district court to revisit its enforcement of a settlement agreement that prohibited an employee from future employment with the employer and any company the employer later acquired or served.  The opinion in Golden v. California Emergency Physicians Medical Group addresses whether California Business & Professions Code section 16600 extends to non-compete agreements only and certainly provides ammunition for future attacks on no re-hire provisions in settlement agreements and other non-traditional restrictive covenants.

Continue Reading California Non-Compete Update: No Re-Hire Provisions May Be in Jeopardy, Especially for Large Employers