Reality-TV-Star-Turned-White-House-Staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman recently grabbed headlines with her tell-all book about her short but dramatic tenure in the West Wing. Some of the most eyebrow-raising revelations came from the secret audio recordings she made of Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room and of President Trump telling her, in the Oval Office, that he didn’t know she had been let go. Omarosa told Chuck Todd, of NBC’s “Meet The Press,” why she made the recordings: “If I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me. No one. So, I protected myself, and I’m going to tell you I’m so glad I did.”
Perusing LinkedIn, as I often do over morning coffee, I saw this plea on one of the human resources groups I follow. Not having the time to read it carefully, I put it aside in my “fodder for future blog posts” folder. Like most of the people who responded quickly with advice for the human resource professional who sought help from her colleagues, my first thought was “big red flag.” How can a company operate with all leaders and no workers, with all executives and no support staff? The reality is that very few businesses of any size can realistically classify all of its workers as exempt.
When the Governor signed a recent appropriations bill passed by the House and the Senate during the last days of the most recent legislative session, the bill contained a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The UTSA version in the proposed legislation was buried deep within the appropriations bill, which was not entirely surprising. Such a proposal, entitled “Chapter 93L,” has been held out previously as part of a compromise to proposed non-compete reform, which was also enacted within the same appropriations bill.
The currently pending Senate proposal S.2625 – so-called non-compete “reform” legislation – was filed on Monday, July 23, 2018, in the Massachusetts Senate. It is not a stand-alone piece of legislation, but instead is buried deep within a $600 million appropriations bill which was issued from the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It would change drastically the legal landscape for enforcement of non-compete agrees. For example, it would require salary payments to the ex-employee during the non-compete period. It would also outlaw enforcement of a non-compete contract where an employee has been laid off without cause. It is a highly controversial piece of legislation which has been debated, in various iterations, for nearly a decade.
To read my recent op-ed published in the Boston Business Journal on this topic, click here.
On March 5, 2018 I reported that the EEOC announced a settlement in its first lawsuit alleging that parental leave policies which granted more rights to mothers discriminated against new fathers. Details on the lawsuit’s allegations can be found here. The EEOC’s press release was devoid of details about the terms of the settlement. On July 17, the details became public, and they are likely to send shock waves through HR departments and C suites. Continue Reading Estee Lauder Agrees to Pay $1.1 Million to Settle Discrimination Suit Filed by EEOC on Behalf of New Dads
It took barely 24 hours before what is believed to be the first lawsuit under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”) to be filed. On Monday morning, July 2, suit was filed on behalf of Elizabeth Rowe, principal flautist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in Suffolk County Superior Court. Rowe was hired for the role by the BSO in 2004, and the lawsuit claims that she has asked for years to be paid the same as the principal oboe player, a male. She alleges that the role of principal oboe is the one most comparable to her position and that paying her some $70,000 less per year amounts to a violation of MEPA.
A bill just passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate, with uncharacteristic speed and bipartisan support, has been touted as a “grand bargain,” meant to circumvent political wrangling over several contentious ballot questions slated to be put before the voters this fall. The wide-ranging bill establishes paid family and medical leave, raises the minimum wage, and eliminates premium Sunday pay, among other things. The bill now goes to Governor Baker, who is expected to sign the measure into law. Continue Reading Massachusetts Legislators’ “Grand Bargain” Establishes Paid Medical Leave and Increases Minimum Wage
In a long awaited decision reversing 26 years of existing precedent, on June 21st the United States Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., that states and other taxing jurisdictions could require out of state retailers to collect sales tax on online sales even though the retailers had no physical presence in the taxing jurisdiction.
On June 6, 2018, National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) General Counsel Peter B. Robb issued a memorandum (“GC 18-04”) to NLRB Regional Directors providing guidance on how to analyze employee handbook rules in the wake of the Board’s recent decision in The Boeing Co., 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017). This guidance provides employers with a helpful road map for navigating the Board’s new three-category—and more employer-friendly—approach to evaluating the lawfulness of employer handbook rules by balancing the employer’s interests against an employee’s right to engage in protected, concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
In 2010, Massachusetts enacted sweeping reforms to its criminal offender record information (CORI) system. Among the changes was a provision prohibiting most employers from asking about criminal history on initial employment applications. The measure is known as “ban the box” because it outlaws the once-common practice of inquiring about criminal background by including a checkbox on employment applications.