The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) law now permits employees to “top off” benefits received through the state Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) with employer-provided accrued paid time off (e.g., vacation, PTO, or sick time).  This new change allows employees to elect whether to supplement their PFML benefits with paid time off.  Employers still cannot require employees to use their accrued paid leave either before or while on PFML; it is up to employees to elect whether or not to supplement their PFML benefits with paid time off.  This change was part of the recently passed fiscal year 2024 budget and is in effect for all new applications for PFML benefits as of November 1, 2023.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Employees May Now Top Off Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits with Vacation, PTO, and Sick Time

McLane Middleton will be hosting two upcoming employment conferences this fall. Both conferences are designed for our employment attorneys to discuss the latest trends in employment law in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts and assist you in preparing to manage your workforce in the coming year.

Continue Reading McLane Middleton to Host Two Employment Conferences This Fall 2023

On June 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, striking down decades of precedent that had previously permitted affirmative action programs in connection with admission practices at colleges and universities.  While the Harvard decision does not directly impact employers, the rationale supporting it has the potential to impact employment practices moving forward, as discussed below.

Continue Reading FORECASTING THE IMPACT OF THE SUPREME COURT’S LATEST AFFIRMATIVE ACTION DECISION ON EMPLOYERS

Andrea Hellrigel, Suffolk Law Student and Summer Associate

The option for remote work has become a new normal for many companies. With employees working throughout the country, sometimes thousands of miles away from a company’s human resources department, employers face new challenges complying with in-person requirements during the onboarding process. This is especially so, since the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that as of July 31, 2023, temporary COVID-19 accommodations for Form I-9, which had excused employers from conducting inspections of I-9 documents in person, will expire.

Continue Reading Employers Take Note:  In-Person Document Inspection for I-9 Forms Resumes

While employers in industries like construction and manufacturing are likely well-versed in specific Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations, an often overlooked regulation called the General Duty Clause applies to every employer.

Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the “General Duty Clause”) requires an employer to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards that may result in death or serious physical harm to its employees.  Violations include fines, legal liability, and reputational damage.

Continue Reading Understanding the OSHA General Duty Clause

On February 27, 2023, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) released an advice memorandum (“Memorandum”) on the topic of an employee discussing issues of racial discrimination in the workplace and on social media. The General Counsel determined that discussions of racial discrimination in the workplace are protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), and therefore, the NLRA protects employees who engage in such discussions from employer retaliation. This determination is similar to a General Counsel advice memorandum from January 20, 2016, in which the General Counsel concluded that an employee’s “discussion of alleged racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment was protected under the Board’s doctrine of ‘inherently concerted’ activity.” However, the Memorandum issued on February 27 seemingly expands that standard to employees who discuss racial discrimination regardless of whether the employee discussions are related to racial discrimination occurring in the workplace or made in connection to the terms and conditions of employment.

Continue Reading NLRB Broadens Scope on Protected Concerted Activity for Workplace Discussions of Racism

In a recent decision, the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) ruled that overly broad confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements are unlawful. In fact, even the mere offering of a severance agreement with these clauses is unlawful. Employers typically include these clauses in severance agreements either to restrict an employee from discussing the severance terms with coworkers or to restrict the employee from publishing false or defamatory comments about the employer following the employee’s departure from the company.  The Board reasoned that these two clauses, if drafted too broadly, might cast too wide a net and have a “chilling effect” on an employee’s exercise of their protected rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”). This ruling applies to severance agreements offered in union and non-union private-sector workplaces. Continue Reading NLRB Rules Overly Broad Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Clauses are Unlawful

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that an employer’s guaranteed daily rate pay plan for an employee earning more than $200,000 per year did not meet the “salary basis” requirement of the federal Fair Labor Standard Act’s (“FLSA”) executive exemption test, and therefore, the employee was entitled to overtime pay for all hours he worked over 40 in a given 7-day workweek.  This decision highlights the importance for employers of correctly classifying employees under the FLSA’s exemptions from overtime pay.  Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt, __ U.S. __ (Feb. 22, 2023)(“Helix”).  Simply paying an employee a substantial amount of money each year may not satisfy the technical requirements of the FLSA. Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules Employee Earning $200,000 Per Year On A Daily Rate Is Entitled To Overtime

On February 9, 2023, the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (“DOL”) published an Opinion Letter addressing the use of leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) by an employee with a serious health condition to create a reduced scheduled workweek for an indefinite time period.  That same day, the DOL also clarified in a Field Assistance Bulletin the application of several specific Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) provisions and FMLA eligibility requirements to remote-based employees.  Neither of these publications create new law, but each serves as a helpful reminder of some of the more precise requirements of each law.  Below is a summary of the main points of each publication. Continue Reading United States Department of Labor Issues guidance on the FMLA and FLSA

There is a bipartisan bill in the New Hampshire Senate that would establish privacy rights for consumers in the state and privacy requirements for businesses and other organizations. On the latest installment of New Hampshire Business, host Fred Kocher is joined by Cameron Shilling, Chair of the Cyber Security Practice Group at McLane Middleton, to break down this proposed bill and the impact it could have on your privacy.

Click here to watch