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Discrimination

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Laws Governing Working on Thanksgiving and Holidays in Massachusetts


First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving! 

An interesting employment law tidbit is that both Massachusetts and Rhode Island stand outside the norm for the country by requiring private companies to give workers paid time off for national holidays.  You may have recently heard that certain retailers have announced that its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving for the future.  While part of that decision is certainly as a good will gesture to its employees, it is also a savvy business decision as retail employers cannot force its employees to work on legal holidays and, if they do, retail employers often have to provide “premium pay” which would cost the company an increased expense if they chose to be open. 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes eleven holidays as a legal holiday (Suffolk County includes a few extra such as Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day).  Each holiday has its own rules and restrictions set on what industries are allowed to be open, what times they may be open, and how much they need to pay their employees.
Read more . . .


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Employers’ Vaccine Mandates Upheld in Massachusetts


Last week, a Federal Judge in Boston denied the motion of two hundred and twenty-nine Massachusetts General Brigham employees who sought an injunction to prevent the company from enforcing its vaccine mandate.  Prior to that, the Court ruled against a group of Massachusetts correction officers who similarly asked for an injunction on the vaccination mandate.  Putting aside the hot button question as to whether or not employers should be able to mandate vaccinations for its employees (of which there are strong arguments both for and against), the reality is that a large number of employees in Massachusetts are going to be facing a decision that they do not want to have to make: get the vaccine or lose their job.

Massachusetts General Brigham employees approximately 77,000 people across its hospital network, so the two hundred and twenty-nine employees that joined in the Court case to try and block the mandate represents a very small fraction of its total workforce.  In fact, Massachusetts General Brigham estimates that over ninety-five percent of its employee base has been at least partially vaccinated.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Can Employers Require Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?


Almost since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the question of whether or not a vaccination would be mandatory has been a regular part of public discourse.  On December 11, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts started distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and has pushed the conversation to the forefront.  Many people have expressed hesitation or outright disapproval of taking any vaccination for COVID-19.  However, it is likely that an employer will be able to require his or her employees to receive the vaccination as a condition of continued employment.

The precedent in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was established in 1905.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 29, 2019

The New Non-Competition Laws in Massachusetts


One of the most debatable employment law issues in Massachusetts over the past decade or so has been changes to Massachusetts' laws regarding non-competition agreements.  Historically, employers loved them and employees (at best) tolerated them.  On August 10, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed new legislation in the form of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 149, § 24K into law.

Prior to the changes in the law, to be enforceable a non-competition agreement only needed to be supported by consideration, as non-competition agreements were believed to be necessary to protect an employer's legitimate business interests (such as confidential information or trade secrets).  Non-competition agreements needed to be reasonable in scope, in both duration and geographic area.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Marijuana in the Workplace


Massachusetts voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2012 and voted to legalize recreational pot in 2016.  In November of 2018, the first recreational marijuana store opened in Massachusetts.  But what does the legalization of marijuana in the Commonwealth mean in terms of your employment?  Basically, just because marijuana is legal, that does not mean you cannot lose your job if you use it.

The legislation connecting legalized marijuana and employment law is still evolving, but it is becoming a more and more predominate legal question, both from the employer side and the employee side. 

Recreational Marijuana

As is almost always the case with everything in the law, there are exceptions, but in general, using recreational marijuana can cost an employee his or her job in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Can An Employee Be Fired from Their Job if They Are On Short-Term Disability or Workers Compensation?


One question that comes up quite a lot in the employment law world is whether or not an employee can be fired while they are out on short-term disability or workers comp.  In Massachusetts, the answer is that employees can, in fact, lose their job while out on short-term disability or workers comp - in most cases.

In most states, such as Massachusetts, employees are not entitled to job-protected workers compensation leave.  The same thing is true if an employee is out on short-term disability.  Massachusetts is an “employment-at-will” state.
Read more . . .


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Protections for Massachusetts Employees from Employer's Retaliation and Termination


Massachusetts is a an at-will employment state, meaning that employees can typically be fired at any time for any reason.  However, there are several important exceptions to this general rule which are important for employees who have been let go (or are in fear of being terminated from their employment) to know about.

First, there are certain protected activities under the Common Law that an employee cannot be fired because he or she engaged in said activity.  These activities including: (1) asserting a legal right (such as taking vacation time or filing a workers' compensation action), (2) fulfilling a legal duty (such as attending jury duty), (3) reporting criminal wrongdoing, (4) refusing to commit illegal acts (such as embezzling or committing perjury), and (5) cooperating in a criminal investigation of the employer or the employee's superiors.  Generally speaking, if an employee is engaged in these protected activities the employer cannot terminate him or her for doing so.
Read more . . .


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Do Third Party Witnesses/Deponents Need Legal Representation?

One of the most important elements of the discovery process for any type of litigation are the depositions.  Some lawsuits or claims do not require any deposition notices; others require depositions in the double digits. 

One common misconception is that only parties to a lawsuit can be deposed.  In fact, any witness, whether a party or not, with any relevant information to the case can probably be deposed.  So, if you are a third-party deponent, do you need to contact a lawyer?


Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Recent Settlement in U.S. District Court Case Highlights Dangers of Age Discrimination


"Growing older is a precious commodity.  Only a few can endure to achieve that distinguished distinction and quality." - Debasish Mridha

There are several types of discrimination that are prohibited by the laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including discrimination due to disability, national original, pregnancy, race, religion, and sex.


Read more . . .


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