Employers Face Wage & Hour Risks When Terminating Employees

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

This summer, the family-owned grocery store chain Market Basket has been engaged in a contentious and public dispute over ownership and control of the chain. As a result, thousands of jobs have hung in the balance. In a joint letter, the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and New Hampshire recently used the dispute to remind Market Basket of its legal obligations to employees. The joint letter applies to employers generally, and provides a helpful synopsis of some of the obligations and risks involved in employee terminations.

For further information or questions about employee terminations, contact a member of our Employment Law Group.

Massachusetts’ Minimum Wage Set to Increase

July 23, 2014 Leave a comment

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is set to increase on January 1, 2015 for the first time since 2008.  On June 26, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law which will raise the hourly minimum wage for non-tipped employees from $8.00 an hour as follows:

  • Beginning January 1, 2015, to $9.00.
  • Beginning January 1, 2016, to $10.00.
  • Beginning January 1, 2017, to $11.00.

The hourly minimum cash wage for tipped workers will increase from $2.63 to $3.00 an hour on January 1, 2015, and again to $3.75 an hour on January 1, 2017.  As a result of these increases, Massachusetts’ minimum wage will be amongst the highest in the country.

Compliance with Massachusetts’ minimum wage laws is important since the failure to do so will result in a violation of the Massachusetts “Payment of Wages” statute, M.G.L. c.149, §148 (the “Wage Act”).  Violations of the Wage Act carry a high price and are subject to mandatory treble (triple) damages and attorney’s fees, even if an employer has acted in good faith.  Wage Act violations can also result in criminal penalties and civil liability for the employer as well for as the president, treasurer, and individual “officers and agents” of the employer.

For more information on the Massachusetts minimum wage increase or wage and hour compliance generally, contact a member of the Employment Law Group.

Employment Law Clip: Retaliation Claims and Steps Employers Can Take to Avoid Them

June 17, 2014 Leave a comment

According to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) statistics, 2013 was the fourth straight year when charges alleging unlawful retaliation by employers was the leading type of discrimination alleged. Retaliation claims accounted for 41.1% of the charges filed with the EEOC in 2013, up three percent from 2012. Retaliation is now the most common type of discrimination alleged nationally, topping both race and gender. What are retaliation claims and what steps can employers take to reduce their risks?

Still need more information? Try one of our other resources:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions.

MBBP’s Employment Law Clip Series provides quick, easy-to-digest snapshots of common Employment issues, as well as practical information on how to avoid complicated, expensive and time-consuming pitfalls. Visit our YouTube page to see all Employment Law Clip videos.

Employment Law Clip: Non-Compete Agreements & the Material Change Doctrine

June 5, 2014 Leave a comment

The success of a company often relies on its ability to attract and retain key employees, and to safeguard their know-how, customer relationships and trade secrets. To this end, many companies put in place non-competition agreements with their employees at the time of hire and assume that these agreements remain enforceable even if changes occur to the employee’s job. However, recent Massachusetts trial court decisions confirm that is not always so. The “material change doctrine” can be invoked by former employees to void non-competition agreements signed at the inception of employment, which may leave an employer’s customer relationships, i.e., “goodwill,” and confidential proprietary information exposed to misuse and misappropriation. Today, former employees are raising this defense more often and with more success.

In this video Massachusetts Employment Lawyer Christopher J. Perry explains the “material change doctrine” and the importance of carefully considering the potential impact of job changes on the enforceability of non-compete agreements. For more information, see our article: Material Job Changes May Void Employee’s Non-Compete

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions.

MBBP’s Employment Law Clip Series provides quick, easy-to-digest snapshots of common Employment issues, as well as practical information on how to avoid complicated, expensive and time-consuming pitfalls. Stay tuned for the next topic on Restrictive Employment Agreements.

More MA Legislative Developments in Trade Secrets and Non-Competes

May 9, 2014 Leave a comment

By: Christopher PerryEmployment Attorney Christopher Perry

On April 29, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development favorably reported out a bill which would enact a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) coupled with a ban on non-competition agreements in Massachusetts.  The bill is quite similar to the Patrick Bill we described in our April 15, 2014 Employment Law Alert.  This marks the first time that the Joint Committee has favorably reported out a bill to the legislature that would regulate non-competition agreements in the Commonwealth.  The current legislative session ends as of July 31, so it remains to be seen if the legislature will take any action on the new bill.

For more information on this topic, please contact Chris Perry.

Employment Law Clip: FLSA Classifications – Salaried Does Not Necessarily Mean Exempt From Overtime

April 28, 2014 Leave a comment

A common misconception is that paying a salary to an employee makes the employee exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In reality, many salaried employees do not qualify for any exemption from overtime obligations, and relying solely upon whether employees are paid a salary in classifying them as exempt or nonexempt will almost certainly result in misclassifications. In this video Massachusetts Employment Lawyer Maura E. Malone discusses the process of determining whether your employees are exempt or non-exempt and the risks of failing to properly classify them.

Want more information? Try some of our other resources on this topic:

Please feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions on Massachusetts wage payment laws.

MBBP’s Employment Law Clip Series provides quick, easy-to-digest snapshots of common Employment issues, as well as practical information on how to avoid complicated, expensive and time-consuming pitfalls. Stay tuned for the next topic on Restrictive Employment Agreements.

Patrick Administration Seeks to Ban Non-Compete Agreements

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

During the past several years, there have been various legislative initiatives in Massachusetts which, if successful, would have regulated and/or curtailed the use by employers of non-competition agreements.  On September 10, 2013, in testimony before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, Gregory Bialecki, Governor Patrick’s Secretary of Housing and Workforce Development, testified that the Patrick Administration supports the “outright elimination of enforceability” of all non-compete agreements in Massachusetts, regardless of duration or geographic scope.  Secretary Bialecki’s testimony finally confirmed publicly what many assumed was the Patrick Administration’s position on this controversial subject.

Last Thursday, the Patrick Administration took a bigger step towards its goal of eliminating non-compete agreements by way of an economic stimulus bill that includes a proposed new Chapter 93K to enact the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) in Massachusetts. The proposed Chapter also includes a provision which would render “void and unenforceable” any non-compete agreement with an employee or independent contractor.

For more information on what this means for employers, please see the full Alert.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a member of MBBP’s Employment Law Group.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers