Employers Should Maintain and Enforce Overtime Policies

March 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Both Federal and Massachusetts law require that employers pay their non-exempt employees overtime wages whenever employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The law requires that employers pay overtime when they knew or should have known that the employee worked more than 40 hours. As a result, employers can be liable for overtime hours which they did not specifically authorize. Employers can minimize this liability by establishing an overtime policy and a mechanism for requesting and reporting overtime.

Overtime policies should include: who is eligible for overtime; what, if any conditions apply to the authorization of overtime; a specific mechanism for employees to request authorization to work overtime; and a specific mechanism for employees to report overtime hours which have been worked. Any policy should be clearly and conspicuously communicated to employees, and consistently enforced. Managers should not, under any circumstances, instruct employees to falsely record time or avoid reporting overtime hours worked.

Maintaining an overtime policy will not only result in transparent workplace expectations but it could also help an employer defend against an expensive wage and hour claim. In Vitali v. Reit Management and Research, LLC, SUCV2012-00588-BLS1 (Mass Super. June 2, 2014), a Massachusetts employee claimed she had worked through her lunch regularly and as a result often worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, entitling her to overtime. However, her employer had an overtime policy in place which required advanced approval for working overtime, as well as mechanisms for reporting overtime hours, which the employee had not followed despite her familiarity with the policy. The employee presented no evidence that management knew that the employee was working through lunch. Because the employer had clearly communicated rules and policies in place, and because the employee had failed to follow them, the employee was not able to maintain her claim for unpaid wages and the employer escaped a potentially expensive claim.

For more information on overtime policies, please contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

When Will the Proposed Changes to the Overtime Regulations Be Published?

March 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Robert M. Shea

In March 2014, one year ago, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Secretary of Labor to make changes to the federal overtime regulations concerning the “white collar” exemptions to the overtime requirements.  The President directed the Secretary to “restore the common sense principles” to the overtime exemptions.

In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a target date of November 2014 for publishing the proposed changes.  The Department subsequently engaged in meetings with businesses and employees in which it solicited input and ideas, including on raising the minimum required salary level from its current level of $23,660 and adjusting the primary duties test.  The Department did not meet its November 2014 target date and, instead, set a new target date of February 2015.  The February date has come and gone without publication of the proposed regulations.

Last week, on March 18, the U.S. Secretary of Labor stated that the Department was “working overtime” on the proposed changes and that he “hoped” they would be published this Spring.  Once published, the proposed changes will be subject to public comment and, most likely, substantial modification.  Consequently, the final revised regulations will most likely not go into effect until sometime in 2016.

 

We will keep clients updated on the proposed changes.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact the Employment Law team with any questions.

 

10 Points for Reviewing Physician Employment Agreements

March 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Employment Attorney Scott ConnollyBy: Scott Connolly

A physician’s employment agreement with a group practice or hospital is an important document.  It may set expectations regarding clinical duties, working conditions, the resources the physician needs to treat patients, service locations, and evaluation for ownership (for group practices).  These factors will greatly affect the physician’s professional and personal life. A physician’s employment agreement also will establish key contractual obligations for both the physician and the group practice or hospital concerning compensation and benefits, the term of employment, early termination and its consequences, professional liability coverage, patient records, post-termination restrictions, indemnification, and mediation and dispute resolution.

Here are 10 important points that should be carefully reviewed in a physician’s employment agreement.

For more information on this topic, please contact Scott Connolly.

Immigration Alert: Frequently Asked Questions About H-4 EADs

February 26, 2015 Leave a comment

On February 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a final rule allowing H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers to apply for employment authorization documents (“EADs”). This recent development stems from President Obama’s executive order that he signed on November 21, 2014 to modernize and streamline the U.S. immigrant visa system for the 21st century. In light of this new development, we have assembled the following FAQ to help employers, and their employees, understand the implications of this new regulation.

To learn about the frequently asked questions regarding H-4 EADs, please read our full alert from MBBP’s Immigration Department. Please contact a member of the Immigration team, or your MBBP attorney, with any questions.

Court Broadly Interprets Ban on Physician Noncompetition Restrictions

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Employment Attorney Scott Connolly In a recent decision, a Massachusetts trial court judge decided that a medical practice could not enforce noncompetition and patient nonsolicitation provisions contained in both an employment agreement and an asset purchase agreement against a physician.  This case is the first reported instance where a Massachusetts court has voided such restrictions in an asset purchase agreement.

To read the full article by Scott Connolly.

Employment Attorney Scott Connolly authors “Policies to Guide Employee Conduct and Respond to Misconduct” a chapter in MCLE’s book Drafting Employment Documents in Massachusetts

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Employment Attorney Scott ConnollyScott Connolly, a partner in MBBP’s Employment Law Group, authored the chapter “Policies to Guide Employee Conduct and Respond to Misconduct” in MCLE’s book Drafting Employment Documents in Massachusetts (3rd Edition 2015).

The book is published by MCLE and is an essential resource for Massachusetts employers, employment attorneys, and human resources professionals.  Scott’s chapter covers workplace policies that help to guide employee conduct, ensure legal compliance, promote the employer’s cultural values, and respond to misconduct.

Scott has broad experience as both in-house and outside counsel helping employers achieve their business objectives while complying with federal and state employment laws. He guides employers through the full spectrum of issues that arise from the employment relationship, including those issues most likely to lead to litigation such as wage/overtime disputes, employee discipline and performance problems, sexual harassment and other workplace investigations, terminations, and reductions in force.

Scott’s full biography and contact information are available here.

 

The #1 Type of Employment Claim Filed with the EEOC is Again Retaliation

February 13, 2015 Leave a comment

By: Robert M. SheaEmployment Attorney Bob Shea

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has just released its statistics for fiscal year 2014 and for the fifth straight year charges alleging unlawful retaliation by employers was the leading type of discrimination alleged.  Retaliation claims accounted for 42.8% of the charges filed with the EEOC, up almost two percent from 2013 to the highest percentage ever.  Retaliation was followed by race discrimination (35%), gender, including sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination (29.3%), disability discrimination (28.6%), and age discrimination (23.2%).  The EEOC’s enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 1997 through 2014 are found here.

For an explanation of why retaliation claims have become so common, and guidance on steps employers should take to avoid claims, please refer to this March 2013 article.

Please contact the Employment Law team for more information.

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