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Employment Law

Friday, April 22, 2022

Massachusetts Wage Act Provides for Automatic Treble Damages for Late Wage Payments


If an employer does not provide an employee leaving the company with his or her wage payments on time but quickly corrects the problem, that is the end of the issue, correct?  Not so fast, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held.  Even if the employer fails to make timely wage payments to a departing employee by mistake, the employer will be on the hook for automatic treble damages.  The SJC’s recent ruling and clarification of the Massachusetts Wage Act is essential information for all employers in Massachusetts to be fully informed about before failure to comply with the Act becomes a very costly mistake.

Massachusetts General Law c.149 § 148 states that "any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.
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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.
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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.
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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Not Giving a Terminated Employee their Final Pay on the Day of Termination Can Lead to Triple Damages and an Award of Attorney’s Fees


Massachusetts wage and hours laws provide employers with guidance as to how, when, and how much workers must be paid.  One common issue that arises is when and what employees that resign or are terminated need to be paid.  Generally speaking, an employee is voluntarily quits or resigns may be paid on the next regular pay date after his or her last day of work but an employee who is involuntarily terminated must be paid in full on the day of discharge.  Failing to adhere to these rules can have significant consequences.

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 149 § 148 states “any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.
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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.
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Friday, October 23, 2020

COVID-19 Trends in Personal Injury and Employment Law


As hard it is to believe we are over seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the legal community is beginning to see some trends with regards to COVID-19 related litigation.  There are two trends in particular that should be noted: the increase in serious automobile accidents and the increase in lawsuits against individual owners and managers of corporations, as opposed to just the corporations themselves.

It has been pretty well established that traffic has decreased significantly since the first wave of shutdowns in March 2020, so it may surprise some that there has been an increase in serious automobile accidents since that time.  In fact, the number of motor vehicle fatalities per miles driven increased by fourteen percent in comparing March 2019 to March 2020 according to a National Safety Council report.  Since March 2020 there have been many serious accidents on the roadways despite a general decrease in the number of drivers.
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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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