On April 23, 2024,  the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) published a new rule banning most non-compete clauses in employment contracts. The new rule was issued by a narrow margin of 3:2, and comes as an effort by the FTC to promote competition, protect the freedom of workers to change jobs, and increase innovation. FTC Chair Lina M. Khan has explained that the rule will “ensure that Americans have the freedom to pursue a new job, start a new business, or bring a new idea to market.”

Continue Reading FTC Bans Non-Competes

Employers take note that the H-1B lottery for fiscal year (FY) 2025 will take place in just a few weeks. The H-1B is a work-based visa that allows foreign nationals to work for a U.S. employer in a position that requires a bachelor’s degree or above. There are only 65,000 available each year, so registrations are submitted into a lottery system. If you have any employees or potential employees who may benefit, you must register between March 6, 2024 and March 22, 2024.

Continue Reading H-1B Registration Period Beginning March 6, 2024

At the start of 2024, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) released a new version of its Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) poster as well as a new employee notice form and updated rate sheet. 

Continue Reading Reminders for Massachusetts’ Employers Regarding Paid Family and Medical Leave

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