The Supreme Judicial Court has just recently made it abundantly clear that for liability to hold under the Massachusetts Wage Act, G.L. c. 149, §148, “[t]he work must have been actually performed and wage payments must be presently due to trigger the precise requirements and severe penalties” available under the Act.  The case is Calixto v. Coughlin, 481 Mass. 157 (2018).

Continue Reading “Earned Wages” Not The Equivalent of “Back Pay” Under Massachusetts Wage Act

Photo: OTA Photos via Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

As published in NEHRA News (3/21/2019)

The Massachusetts Wage Act provides that an employee who “prevails” in an action to recover unpaid wages “shall … be awarded the costs of the litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”  This “fee-shifting” provision is an exception to well-established “American Rule” under which each party bears his or her own attorney’s fees, win or lose.  In cases where the employee wins at trial, the application of the Wage Act’s fee-shifting provision is clear: the employee will recover his or her attorney’s fees.  But what happens when the case doesn’t go to trial, and instead, the parties resolve the matter through a negotiated settlement in which both sides compromise?  Has the employee “prevailed” in that situation?  Is he or she entitled to recover attorney’s fees?

Continue Reading Do Employees Recover Attorney’s Fees When A Massachusetts Wage Act Case Resolves Through A Settlement?

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued an Opinion Letter in which it stated that an employer may not delay the designation of leave qualifying under the Family and Medical Leave Act, even if the affected employee would prefer not to take FMLA leave, and employers may not designate more than 12 weeks of leave as FMLA leave. Continue Reading Department Of Labor Says That FMLA Leave Cannot Be Deferred

Photo: makelessnoise via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Yesterday, President Trump unveiled his new budget plan.  Along with controversial plans to fund construction of a wall on the southern border and to cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid, the budget also includes a proposal for paid parental leave.

President Trump’s daughter Ivanka has been advocating for federal paid parental leave since the beginning of the administration in 2017.  And the president touted the idea during his State of the Union address in February.

President Trump’s plan would provide six weeks of paid leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, to recover from childbirth and to bond with a new child.  The plan would be administered at the state level, and is anticipated to be offered through programs based on unemployment insurance.

Continue Reading President Trump’s Budget Includes a Proposal for Paid Parental Leave

Photo: Tomas de Aquino via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

On March 7, 2019 the NH Supreme Court ruled that an employee’s worker’s compensation carrier was wrong to deny reimbursement for the cost of medical marijuana to an employee recovering from a work related injury.  The employee, Andrew Panaggio, suffered a lower back injury in 1991.  He received a lump sum settlement for permanent impairment in 1997 and continued to experience pain as a result of the injury.  He experienced negative side effects from prescribed opioids and was issued a NH cannabis registration card approving him for the use of medical marijuana in 2016.  He purchased the marijuana and then sought reimbursement from the worker’s compensation carrier which denied payment stating that “medical marijuana is not reasonable/necessary or causally related” to the injury.

Continue Reading NH Supreme Court Rules That Worker’s Compensation Carrier May be Required to Reimburse for Medical Marijuana

Photo: OTA Photos via Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor released its long-awaited updated overtime rule proposal.  Under the proposed rule, the minimum salary level at which an employee can be exempted from federal overtime and minimum wage requirements (assuming other criteria are met) would increase from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually).  If enacted, more than a million more workers would become eligible for overtime under the proposed rule.

Continue Reading Department of Labor Releases Updated Overtime Proposed Rule Raising the Salary Level for Overtime Exemption

A bill recently filed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, if passed, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of height and weight.  The proposed legislation would add height and weight to the list of protected classes covered by the Commonwealth’s antidiscrimination law (G.L. Chapter 151B) and public accommodation laws (G.L. Chapter 272, Sections 92A and 98).

Continue Reading Will Massachusetts Outlaw Discrimination Based on Height and Weight?

On February 1, 2019 the Keene Sentinel reported that a Massachusetts construction company had been hit with more than $64,000 in fines after an audit conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Labor. Although the bulk of the fines were related to the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, there were also a number of recordkeeping violations found.

The Keene Sentinel article devotes significant attention to the problems of trying to classify individuals as independent contractors under NH state law, a very difficult burden to meet. The result of the audit and the fines imposed on the business, however, showcase how difficult it is for businesses who typically do not operate in a state to establish a workforce there and be in compliance with state laws.

Continue Reading Trials of Massachusetts Company Building Keene Hotel Signals Warning to Businesses with Multi-State Workforces

In the United States, certain religious schools are legally permitted to limit or discontinue student enrollment if:

the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.)

Continue Reading The Most Famous Elementary School Art Teacher in the United States and What She Has to Teach us About Discrimination