Summertime is vacation time. And vacation time means headaches for employers who engage in vacation float. Vacation “float” is the practice of advancing vacation to employees before they actually accrue it under an employer’s vacation policy. So the question becomes, if you allow an employee to take vacation time the employee hasn’t actually earned, how do you get the value of that time back if the employee leaves before “repaying” it?

Continue Reading Vacation Float: Managing (and Recouping) Unearned Vacation Time

As our readers know, we have been monitoring decisions regarding the ability of employers to take disciplinary action against employees for using marijuana at work (like this decision here). The most recent high court to weigh in on this topic is the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which looked at whether an employer may violate that state’s anti-discrimination law when it fires an employee because of a failed drug test based on the employee’s use of medical marijuana. The Court concluded that employers must accommodate medical marijuana users in the normal course under these circumstances to avoid a violation of that law.  We discuss this important new decision – Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC – below.

Continue Reading Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana as a Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace

In an effort to make up for a funding shortfall in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Medicaid program, state policymakers have proposed solutions that include a “play-or-pay” option under which employers who fail to offer major medical coverage, or who offer coverage but have low take-up rates, would be required to pay an additional “employer contribution” to the Commonwealth based on multiple factors and complex computations. Another option would make up the shortfall with an across-the-board increase, similar to a payroll tax increase, in the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (or “EMAC”), which helps defray Medicaid financing.

This post argues in favor of the latter option. We are of the view that an across-the-board increase in EMAC payments, would be vastly preferable because of its simplicity and ease of administration. The “play-or-pay” option would not only be extremely complicated to comply with and enforce, but, as we explain below, it may be preempted by federal law, i.e., the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

Continue Reading Efforts to Shore up MassHealth Should Favor Simplicity and Avoid Potential Conflict with Federal Law

We had such a spirited panel discussion on pay equity at our Third Annual Employment Law Summit recently that we wanted to follow up with a post addressing the current state of play on pay equity legislation, particularly with respect to salary history disclosure laws. This is a rapidly advancing area of the law in which we continue to see new developments.

Continue Reading Legislation Limiting an Employer’s Ability to Inquire About and Consider Applicants’ Prior Salary History Gains Momentum

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