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Will We See Non-Compete Reform Enacted This Year?

June 28, 2016 Leave a comment

By: Scott J. Connolly

For the past eight years, legislative efforts to reform 2015-01-05_8-57-41post-employment noncompetion agreements in Massachusetts have failed. But this year, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo has signaled his support for H. 4323 and there is buzz that a non-compete bill may
SJC Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846523xB1386)land on Gov. Baker’s desk before the legislative session ends in July. 

This bill entitled, “Massachusetts Noncompetition Act” has eight key components in order for a noncompetition agreement to be valid and enforceable. If H. 4323 is enacted, employers will have to quickly and carefully revise their employee restrictive agreements to comply with the new law.

Read the full post here.

“Magic” Numbers for Federal and State Employment Law Coverage

June 8, 2016 Leave a comment

ela_indexBy: Sandra E. Kahn
There is an ever-increasing array of regulation on employment practices at the state and federal level. But when do growing businesses become covered under the employment laws of these jurisdictions?

It’s all in the employee numbers: Six, Fifteen, Twenty, Fifty, One Hundred. For example, when a business has six employees, the company becomes covered by the MA Fair Employment Practices Act but then at fifteen, it also comes under the federal laws of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the company grows, different regulations come and go and it is critical to be aware of it in order to maintain legal compliance.

Read the full post here.

New Overtime Regulations Will Result In Many More Workers Becoming Entitled To Overtime

May 18, 2016 Leave a comment

By, Sandra E. Kahn

On May 18, 2016, President Obama announced the publication of the U.S. Department of 2015-01-05_8-57-41
Labor’s final rule (“Final Rule”) updating the overtime regulations, and providing that employees who earn less than $47,476 annually will be entitled to overtime.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) “white collar” exemptions are familiar to most employers. Under the FLSA, employees must be paid the minimum amount required by the statute on a salary basis, and the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties. The Final Rule changes only the salary basis test, leaving in place the existing duties test.

For more details, read our full alert and visit our Employment Law Group page.

New Federal Law Protects Trade Secrets But Also Requires Changes to Employee and Contractor Agreements

May 5, 2016 Leave a comment

By: Sandra E. Kahn

The new Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA) is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.  The Act will allow claims for trade secret theft to be brought under a federal civil cause of action.

Under certain circumstances, the Act will provide protection for whistleblowers who divulge trade secrets to the government in order to report wrongdoing.  As such, employers will now have to inform their employees of that protection in any agreement or contract.  It is advised that employers consult with their counsel to revise contracts as necessary.

For a more detailed explanation of the DTSA, read the full post on our Good Company blog.

2016 New Year’s News for Employers

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

2015-01-05_8-57-41As we approach the New Year there are a few important changes to keep in mind, as well as recommendations to get your employment law practices in order.

What are these changes?

  • Minimum Wage Goes Up
  • Earned Sick Leave Safe Harbor Ends
  • Sexual Harassment Law Compliance
  • Data Protection Compliance

For all the details read our Employment Law Alert.

If you have questions about any of the above suggestions, please contact Sandy Kahn or any member of MBBP’s Employment Law Group.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Interpretation on Independent Contractor Misclassification

July 28, 2015 Leave a comment

ela_indexThe Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage & Hour Division issued a formal Interpretation to provide “additional guidance” concerning the misclassification of workers as independent contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Businesses continuing to utilize independent contractors need to understand that combating misclassification is a priority for DOL and this latest action may lead to increased misclassification litigation.

To learn more about this important issue read our Employment Law Advisor.

Significant Amendments To The Overtime Regulations Proposed By The DOL Will Result In Many More Workers Becoming Entitled To Overtime

July 22, 2015 Leave a comment

ela_indexIf the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule is adopted, any exempt employees who earn less than $50,440 per year will need to be reclassified as non-exempt.  These employees will now earn overtime if they work over 40 hours per week.

This proposal would increase the salary level required significantly in order for the employee to remain qualified for the “white collar” exemptions.

To learn more about this proposal and how it may affect you if it goes into effect, please read our full Employment Law Advisor.

Proposed Noncompete Legislation Filed in Massachusetts

February 10, 2015 Leave a comment

By: Robert M. Shea

Employment Attorney Bob SheaSeveral bills that would restrict the use of noncompete agreements were filed in the Massachusetts legislature in January.  Two bills (H.730 and H.2157) filed by Rep. Angelo Puppolo and Rep. Sheila Harrington, respectively, use language similar to the California law that bans most employee noncompetes (as well as nonsolicitation agreements) but permits nondisclosure agreements.

Three other bills take a more limited approach.  Two bills (H.2332 and S.809) filed by Rep. Lori Erlich and Sen. Will Brownsberger, respectively, are identical to each other and use language similar to that proposed by Governor Patrick last year.  These bills are focused on noncompete agreements and do not seek to ban customer (or employee) nonsolicitation agreements or nondisclosure agreements.  The bills also would not affect noncompete agreements already in place (that is, the law would not apply retroactively).  Another bill (S.334) filed by Sen. Jason Lewis uses almost the same language but would apply retroactively.  A sixth bill (H.709) filed by Rep. Garrett Lewis, uses similar language but could be interpreted as barring not just noncompete agreements but all employee restrictive covenant agreements.  It would also apply retroactively.

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

When was the last time you updated your employee handbook?

February 5, 2015 Leave a comment

ela_index

It’s important to communicate the policies and expectations regarding employer conduct and with the recent legal developments you are required to make frequent updates to your employee handbook.  We’ve outlined several policies that should be reviewed to be sure they are compliant.  In addition if these are not in your handbook, they should be added!

To learn what steps employers should take, read the full advisor.

Time Spent In Security Screenings Does Not Have To Be Compensated – The U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Integrity Staffing v. Busk

January 8, 2015 Leave a comment

2015-01-05_8-57-41The question of when an employee’s compensable work for the day begins and ends is one which can be more complicated than it seems at first glance. Does an employee who checks email before driving to work have to be compensated for that time? Will an employer have to pay an employee for the time it takes to park in a remote lot and take a shuttle bus to work? The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on this subject in its recent decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, No. 13-433 (December 9, 2014), where it ruled unanimously that employees did not have to be paid for the time they spent waiting to undergo and then undergoing security screenings before leaving the workplace each day.  In this class action case, the employees were hourly workers who worked in two different warehouses. Their duties involved retrieving products from shelves and packaging the products for delivery to Amazon customers, and at the end of the day,  were required to undergo a security screening which included removing their wallets, keys and belts, and going through a metal detector. The employees complained that they were forced to spend up to twenty-five minutes a day in this screening process, and argued that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) they should be compensated for this time.

 

Please see this month’s Employment Law Alert for further details.
Feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions.

New Year Resolutions…Have You Made Yours?

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

ela_indexWelcome to 2015!  Each year thousands of people make New Year Resolutions to better themselves.  They resolve to be happier, healthier, organized, involved in their community, etc.  However, often we overlook the workplace when making these new resolutions. That’s why we put together a handful of tips to ensure your employment practices are in order.  It’s time to update handbooks and policies, make sure reviews are on schedule for the year and put a “WISP” (Written Information Security Plan) into place if you haven’t already.  Ring the year in right, ensure you and your employees are working in a happier, healthier company!

View our Top Ten Employment Tips for 2015!

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

Voters Approve Ballot Mandating Paid Sick Leave

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

This month, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure regarding employee entitlement to receive paid sick leave. Effective July 2015, employers of eleven or more employees are now required to provide paid sick leave. As a result of the new requirement, both full and part time employees are eligible for up to 40 hours of annual paid sick leave.  For purposes of calculating whether an employer falls within the eleven employee threshold, the law considers any person who performs services for wage, remuneration, or other compensation at the status of full-time, part-time, or temporary employees. To ensure compliance, employers who previously did not offer paid sick time should begin the revisions of  existing policies and handbooks.

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

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

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.

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.

NLRB Abandons Notice Posting Requirement

January 9, 2014 Leave a comment

January 2, 2014 was the deadline for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate court decisions. The NLRB chose not to file a petition, thus effectively abandoning the notice posting requirement. (Note that this does not impact the requirement under Executive Order 13496 that non-exempt federal contractors and subcontractors post a notice informing employees of their NLRA rights.) The NLRB’s website now notes: “Appellate courts have enjoined the NLRB’s rule requiring the posting of employee rights under the [NLRA]. However, employees are free to voluntarily post the notice.”

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.

Recent Cases Expand Antidiscrimination Laws

December 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Three recent Massachusetts cases expand employee rights under the antidiscrimination laws. Each case impacts a diverse aspect of the state’s antidiscrimination law, including the issue of attorney-client privilege applying to an internal investigation, claims of associational discrimination, and remedies for civil harassment.

For more information, please read our December Employment Law Advisor.

Employee Terminations: Avoiding Claims and Liability

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Employee terminations result in more lawsuits than any other employment action. Despite the general rule in Massachusetts that the employment relationship is “at-will” and can be terminated at any time, with or without notice, reason or cause, there are many exceptions to the at-will rule, which can make each termination open to potential legal challenge. This Employment Law Advisor focuses on how employers should handle employee terminations and the steps employers can take to reduce the risk of legal claims and liability.

For more information, please read our September Employment Law Advisor.

SJC Holds LLC Managers May Be Personally Liable Under MA Wage Act

July 24, 2013 Leave a comment

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently ruled in Cook v. Patient EDU, LLC, et al. (SJC-11272) that language in the Massachusetts Wage Act imposing personal liability on officers and agents of a “corporation” applies equally to managers of a limited liability company (“LLC”). In doing so, the SJC rejected a Superior Court decision reaching the opposite conclusion. This Employment Law Alert addresses the case Cook v. Patient EDU, LLC, et al. (SJC-11272), SJC’s decision and what this means for employers.

Please feel free to contact MBBP’s Employment Law Group with any questions.

Employer Obligations Under the Massachusetts Personnel Record Law

June 13, 2013 Leave a comment

For employers in Massachusetts, the Personnel Record Law, M.G.L. c. 149, §52C (the “Law”), sets out what must be included in a “personnel record” as well as various employer obligations and employee rights concerning personnel record access, challenges and retention. The Law was amended in 2010 to impose an affirmative duty on employers to notify employees whenever any negative information is added to their personnel record. This Employment Law Advisor addresses the Law’s requirements and implications for employers.

For more information, please read the June Employment Law Advisor.