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

Although the government shutdown appears to be over, at least temporarily, businesses will need to deal with the aftermath of the lengthy shutdown.  One of the many unintended, and perhaps unforeseen, consequences of the shutdown was its impact on federal tax collection efforts.  During the shutdown, Internal Revenue Service Revenue Officers who handle collection matters were deemed non-essential and furloughed.  Although in-person collection activity ceased, automated collection activity did not.  This created the possibility that an individual or business taxpayer could receive computer generated Notice of Intent to Levy during the shutdown.  A Notice of Intent to Levy generally provides a taxpayer thirty days to respond, after which period the IRS can levy assets.  Given the length of the shutdown, a Notice of Intent to Levy could have been issued and have expired, or be ready to expire, while the shutdown continued.  While it may require a human being to send out a levy notice, now that the shutdown has ended there will be officials at the IRS who can issue actual levies.  Now that the shutdown is over, it remains to be seen if the IRS can react quickly enough to stop levy activity on all the accounts that received automated Notices during the shutdown.  If your business receives a Levy Notice shortly after the shutdown, for your own account or for assets payable to an employee, it might be worth some follow up before submitting requested payment to the Internal Revenue Service.  Note though, that without evidence that a Levy Notice has been withdrawn, compliance is required.

Photo: RichardBH via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing a measure, which, if passed, would make the Big Apple the first place in the nation to require private-sector employers to provide paid vacation to employees.  The details of the plan have not yet been released, but the New York Times is reporting that the law would require private employers with five or more employees to provide at least two weeks of paid vacation.  City Hall officials have estimated that approximately half a million NYC workers would benefit from the new law.

Continue Reading NYC Mayor Proposes Mandatory Paid Vacation for Private-Sector Workers

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the E-Verify program, has announced that the website www.e-verify.gov will not be available to employers during the current partial government shutdown. The website will not be managed or updated until after funding is restored. DHS reported that “information on this website may not be up to date. Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted.” Continue Reading During Fight Over Funding for Border Security, E-Verify Closed for Business

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

With the first recreational marijuana retail shops now opening in locations throughout Massachusetts, one legislator is proposing protections for employees who choose to use the newly-legal drug on their own time.  The Boston Globe is reporting that Jason Lewis, a state senator from Winchester, Massachusetts, is planning on introducing legislation in the new year that, if passed, would prevent most employers from terminating or disciplining employees for off-duty, legal use of marijuana.

Continue Reading Proposed Legislation Would Prevent Employers From Firing Employees For Off-Duty Marijuana Use

According to a New Hampshire judge, “It is at least a jury question whether as plaintiff alleges, ‘public policy encourages a mother to breastfeed her child, particularly where breastfeeding is imperative for the child’s health.’”  For this reason, the court denied an employer’s motion to dismiss a New Hampshire woman’s wrongful discharge case after she asked her employer to allow her to breastfeed her newborn son during the workday.  Plaintiff Kate Frederick will now have her case heard before a jury in September 2019.

Continue Reading Breastfeeding Case Heads to a New Hampshire Jury

President George H.W. Bush may very well be best remembered for his role in bringing the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to the American workplace. Bush engaged in bi-partisan leadership in working with the ADA’s chief sponsor, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and the likes of Senators Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Bob Dole, R-Kan.; David Durenberger, R-Minn.; and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah who were key proponents of the legislation, in seeing the legislation through to passage. Bush signed the legislation into law on July 26, 1990. Continue Reading On the Day of President Bush’s Memorial Service We Focus on His Signature Legislation; The Americans with Disabilities Act