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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Process of (and Hope in) Reopening


As I write this, we are three months and one day into the declared Coronavirus Pandemic, where many of us have spent our time at home practicing social distancing. We have all watched as the confirmed cases and casualties have climbed with Massachusetts a hotbed of activity. For many this has been an unprecedented experience, and, in some ways, it has brought us all metaphorically closer as we keep our minimum six feet apart. With daily and weekly updates, a plethora of broadcasts and articles, we have waited anxiously for this moment and as of May 15, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration have unveiled their four-phase plan to reopen the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Any dates that have been projected are currently tentative as the Commonwealth begins to take into account the probable cases going back to March 1st when the declaration was made and continues to reevaluate based on data trends.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Telecommuting During COVID-19


In the time of the Coronavirus Pandemic, everyone has had to get used to things being a little bit different than the day to day norm. So many beloved institutes are temporarily closed, gearing up to open with strict guidelines in place. People are slowly going back to work, and children are finishing up the year with distance learning. But with some industries unable to safely comply with the new distancing guidelines, there is the question of whether those who have moved to telecommuting for the duration of the state instituted lockdown are going to remain working from home, and if so, whether it is a temporary change or the new face of employment.

With the current state of affairs, the phrase ‘working from home’ has been replaced with ‘telecommuting,’ the difference in the two being that the latter now stands for salaried or contracted employees working full time from a remote location which should be treated as a branch of the institute, whereas the previous is now being seen as those specialized, short term closures.


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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Employee Rights During COVID-19


March 1, 2020, the day that the Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, seems so far away as we head into the month of May.  Like a bad dream or childhood cartoon, the days have begun to morph into a singular, collective day for many as the uncertainty, fear and rapid changes continue. As the state with the third highest number of cases in the United States, Massachusetts has closed public and private schools for the rest of the year, postponing jury trials until at least July 1st, 2020, issued stay at home orders, social distancing guidelines, and a plethora of other measure sin an effort to keep citizens safe.

For many, the stay at home orders are a question in and of themselves. With some industries being deemed essential and childcare centers closed, there has been repeated questions as to what that means for employees.


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Monday, December 30, 2019

The Court Denies Corporation's Request to Enforce Non-Competition Agreement


          Recent changes in Massachusetts' laws regarding non-competition agreements have started leading to interesting court rulings in Superior Court.  In the matter of Genzyme Corporation and Bioverativ, Inc. v. Keith Hanglin and BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc., the Court has recently ruled that Genzyme cannot block a former employee from joining BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc, where he would help launch a gene therapy treatment for hemophilia that would compete with a drug his ex-employer markets.
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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.


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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?


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Friday, October 20, 2017

The Future of Massachusetts Non-Competition Agreements

Most people have experience with non-competition agreements, whether they love them (generally employers) or hate them (generally employees). 

In 2016, both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Massachusetts Senate passed different versions of non-compete reform bills.  Unfortunately, by the end of the legislative session, they were unable to come to reach an agreement on non-compete reform.

In early 2017, a new non-compete bill was filed which grew out of earlier versions of legislation introduced in Massachusetts.  This bill, if passed, would make significant changes to non-competition law in Massachusetts.


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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.


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