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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, January 20, 2022

Massachusetts Road Deaths Highest Since 2009


Massachusetts had more deaths on its roads in 2021 than in any year since 2009.  According to a new report from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, four hundred and eight people died on Massachusetts road last year, including drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  This death total is nineteen percent higher than the 2020 total of 343 fatalities.

There are many explanations for this increase in fatalities.  Beginning in April of 2020, there was an increase of reckless driving and speeding which was explained by the Covid-19 pandemic emptying roadways which used to home congested streets.
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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Charlie’s Law Could Strengthen Distracted Drivers Laws in Massachusetts


On October 6, 2021, Charlie Braun was killed when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in Northampton, Massachusetts.  The driver that hit and killed Charlie Braun is facing charges of negligent motor vehicle homicide, failing to stop for a stop sign, and FaceTiming while driving.  As a result, there has been a new push to further reduce distracted driving in Massachusetts and it involves strengthening the state's current hands-free driving law and closing an existing loophole regarding broadcasting video content while driving.

The state's hands-free law, which went into effect in February 2020, already prohibits drivers from holding their phones while operating their vehicles, but, in a bit of a loophole, it does not prohibit operates from filming while driving.  More specifically, while the Massachusetts law bans drivers from viewing video displayed on a mobile electronic device, it does not ban drivers from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving, using apps like FaceTime or Zoom.
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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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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Home Held in Trust is Not a “Countable” Asset


Emily Misiaszek and her husband created an irrevocable trust during their lifetime, the corpus of which included their home.  The terms of the Irrevocable Trust granted the Misiaszeks the right, during their lifetime, a limited power of appointment to appoint all or any portion of the trust principal to a nonprofit or charitable organization over which they have no controlling interest.  When Ms. Misiaszek applied for MassHealth long-term care benefits, she was denied on the basis that the home was a countable asset.  The Massachusetts Office of Medicaid’s Board of Hearings affirmed MassHealth’s decision, but a Superior Court judge reversed the board’s ineligibility determination.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

In Terrorem Clauses Have Power in Massachusetts


One of the most powerful clauses in a will or a trust is the in terrorem clause, which is more commonly referred to as a “no-contest” clause.  In terrorem means “in fear” in Latin and is an appropriate name for the clause as if someone challenges a will or a trust with an in terrorem clause and the challenge is not successful, there can be dire consequences for the challenger.  Namely, a challenger to a will or trust with an in terrorem clause risks losing all of his or her rights and interest under a will or trust.

Almost a year ago, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled in the matter of Capobianco v. Dischino, Mass.
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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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Friday, March 19, 2021

The Caffé Nero Decision's Impact on Commercial Leases


When Governor Charlie Baker prohibited restaurants from letting customers eat or drink indoors and ordered the temporary closure of “non-essential” businesses via Order No. 13 on March 23, 2020, it was known that there would be extensive implications of that decision for many businesses.  Some businesses have shuttered completely while others have successfully launched profitable curbside or take out businesses.  One issue that was not addressed in March of 2020 was what are the rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants of commercial leases.  It took nearly a year, but the first major decision surrounding the issue was made on February 8, 2021.
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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Testamentary Capacity


Testamentary Capacity

by Samuel S. Reidy, Esq.

February 18, 2021

Unfortunately, it has become an all-too-common story.  A loved one is stricken with dementia and during the period he or she does not have possession of all of their facilities, an estate planning change is suddenly made.  Sometimes this new (and often unexpected) estate planning means the changing of beneficiaries in a Will, or a new Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney being named, or the transfer of real estate.
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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Deponents Can Force Virtual Depositions During COVID-19 Pandemic


One of the most important parts of the discovery process in any claim or civil litigation are the depositions.  In a personal injury claim, the injured party is almost always deposed and the defendant is often deposed as well (unless liability is not disputed).  In an employment law claim, depositions can take place not only of the people directly involved in the claim, but often all of the employees of the company.  Any litigator will tell you the importance of depositions to a legal claim.  They can make or break a lawsuit, sometimes only with one wrong answer.
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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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