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

With Election Day just a week away(!), it’s important that employers familiarize themselves with their employees’ rights to take leave to vote.  While there is no Federal law granting employees the right to voting leave, at least half the states provide this right in some form.

Continue Reading Employers Must Be Mindful of Voting Leave Rights on Election Day

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.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Agency Issues Guidance on Gender Identity Discrimination

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

As the ACA audit era approaches, many employers are wondering: what will happen?  What sorts of documentation will the IRS request?  What industries will be targeted?  And what can employers do to prepare?  In this post, I discuss what employers might expect based on my experience with audits under the Massachusetts Fair Share law, and provide some tips for audit preparation and troubleshooting.

Continue Reading As Affordable Care Act Enforcement Looms, Some Lessons Learned From Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Fair Labor Division has joined a multistate effort questioning retail stores’ use of “on call” shifts.  Last week, the Massachusetts AG’s Office teamed up with its counterparts from New York, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and Rhode Island to send requests for information regarding “on call” shifts to 15 national retailers with locations in Massachusetts.  The letters (see an example here) cite to concerns over the toll that “on call” shifts can have on employees, including difficulty making reliable child-care arrangements and obstacles to pursuing an education or a second job.

Continue Reading “On Call” Shifts Still In the Hot Seat in Massachusetts

Both the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) contain rules that aggregate trades and businesses under common control. For the most part, these rules are intended to prevent abuses that might result from breaking a venture up into separate entities. For example, a professional practice might want to split itself into two entities, one covering owners and the other covering rank-and-file employees, for the purpose of providing generous pension benefits to the former and not the latter. This approach is not allowed under the Code’s rules governing entities under common control.

Private equity arrangements too involve multiple, and in many cases, related entities that serve an important and legitimate purpose: to provide, among other things, access to capital and management resources to underperforming (or “portfolio”) companies. While the particulars of private equity arrangements vary widely from fund to fund, there is typically at the heart of each fund a limited partnership to which investment services are provided by a general partner. The limited partners provide the capital and the general partners provide, or provide access to, some combination of capital and managerial expertise.

A recent case, Sun Capital Partners III, LP, Sun Capital Partners III, QP LP, and Sun Capital Partners IV, LP v. New Eng. Teamsters and Trucking Indus. Pension Fund, No. 10-10921 DPW (D. Mass. Mar. 28, 2016) (“Sun Capital”), which deals with multi-employer pension liability under Title IV of ERISA, illustrates how things can go horribly wrong when the regulatory concerns that give rise to separate rules governing controlled groups clash with the practical exigencies of the private equity world.  Sun Capital upends much of the conventional wisdom about private equity investments in portfolio companies with multi-employer pension exposure. While it’s too soon to know for certain, this could prove to be a seminal case for private equity investments with consequences in areas far removed from pension liability.

This post examines the history, holding, and implications of Sun Capital.

Continue Reading Private Equity Funds, Controlled Groups, and Multi-Employer Plan Withdrawal Liability: The Lessons of Sun Capital Partners vs. New England Teamsters and Trucking Industry Pension Fund

Last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a seminal ruling in Bulwer v. Mt. Auburn, which clarified the type of evidence an employment discrimination plaintiff needs to defeat a summary judgment motion.  In doing so, the SJC lightened plaintiffs’ burden of proof concerning pre-textual terminations and may have changed the rules of the game for Massachusetts employers and employees alike.

Continue Reading Massachusetts SJC Lightens Plaintiffs’ Summary Judgment Burden in Employment Discrimination Cases

At the end of last year, a federal court in Massachusetts found that a forum selection clause in an Iowa company’s standard form service-provider agreement did not apply to claims asserted under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Massachusetts Wage Act (Wage Act).  The decision in Chebotnikov v. LimoLink, Inc., therefore compelled the company to litigate in a distant forum and in doing so, taught practitioners and other interested parties some important lessons about forum-selection clauses.

Continue Reading Chebotnikov v. LimoLink, Inc.: a Cautionary Tale Concerning the Use of Forum-Selection Clauses

Massachusetts employers need to take heed that the safe harbor provision in the Earned Sick Time law ends on December 31, 2015.  By the start of the New Year, Massachusetts employers will need to strictly comply with the Sick Time Law or it will not be a very happy New Year.

Continue Reading One Particular (Safe) Harbor: Safe Harbor for Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law Ends on December 31, 2015.