Since the pandemic hit, Massachusetts has developed strict protocols for those wishing to physically enter the state. Presently, all those 18 years of age or older, as well as unaccompanied minors, must quarantine for 14 days, or otherwise provide written proof that they received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arriving in MA. The penalty for non-compliance is stiff: a fine of $500 per day.

Continue Reading To Come to Massachusetts or Not to Come? That is the Question.

The Massachusetts-based Pioneer Institute – a well-respected public policy research body – has issued a “Checklist for Employers” preparing to re-open their facilities. The comprehensive checklist states that:

“While it is impossible to fully eliminate all risks associated with reopening in the COVID-19 setting, an employer may be able to significantly mitigate and reduce risks, such as workplace hazards and employment issues, by following some or all of the recommendations” set forth in the Checklist.


Continue Reading Checklist for Employers Wanting to Re-Open Their Businesses in the Coming Weeks

On Friday, May 1, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Executive Order No. 31 requiring face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible.  The Order provides that effective Wednesday, May 6, 2020, any person over 2 years of age, within a public place and who cannot maintain social distancing – defined as maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others – “shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering[.]” The new mandate “applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations open to the public as ‘essential businesses.’”

Continue Reading Massachusetts Now Requires Cloth Face Coverings

UPDATE: March 23, 2020

Governor Baker announced a statewide “Stay at Home” order, which will begin , March 24 at noon and last at least until April 7. All non-essential businesses will be ordered to cease operations for the same time period.

Click here to view COVID-19 Essential Services – Exhibit A of the order

One of the hallmarks of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that employers are required to have a dialogue—known as the “interactive process”—with an employee who requests or appears to be in need of an accommodation. A recent case, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination v. Tufts Medical Center, Docket No. 10-BEM-01133 (Dec. 18, 2019), provides some guidance for how an employer can fulfill its obligation to determine whether an employee’s disability can be accommodated.

In 2006, after about four years of working as an inpatient nurse at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, the Complainant was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lung disease. The following year, she was excused from overtime responsibilities as an accommodation, but still worked without other restrictions. In the spring of 2009, Complainant took medical leaves and by the summer, had exhausted her job protection; in order to return to the nursing pool at Tufts Medical Center, Complainant was required to apply for vacant jobs. By October of 2009, she was cleared to return to work with no restrictions.


Continue Reading MCAD Awards Former Employee $420,000 in Damages for Employer’s Failure to Engage in Interactive Process

On September 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (“DFML”) issued new guidance on when employers must count 1099-MISC workers as part of their workforce for purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) program. In its press release announcing the new guidance, the DFML stated that the guidance was issued after meetings with representatives from hundreds of businesses across Massachusetts during which the businesses consistently sought clarification on whether they are required to collect contributions from, and report on, 1099-MISC workers.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Clarifies When 1099-MISC Workers Should be Counted for Purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Program

A collective sigh of relief could be heard across the Commonwealth yesterday as anxious business owners, insurers, and employment lawyers heard the news that Massachusetts government leaders had agreed to a three-month delay of the implementation of the first-in-the-nation Paid Family and Medical Leave law.

With a July 1 deadline to begin making payroll deductions looming, many questions remained about the law.  Are the deductions pre-tax or post-tax?  (We still don’t know.)  Which employees and independent contractors are covered?  (It’s complicated.)  Should employers seek an exemption by adopting a private plan?  (Maybe?)  With the deadline now moved to October 1, legislators and employers have some much-needed breathing room to answer these and other questions about the law.


Continue Reading Massachusetts Leaders Agree to Three-Month Delay of Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

The SJC, Massachusetts’ highest court, issued its long awaited decision in Sullivan v. Sleepy’s LLC,  SJC-12542 on May 8, 2019. The case should be of concern to businesses which pay individuals fully or primarily by commission, especially in the retail context or in automobile sales where the ruling departs sharply from federal law.

Continue Reading SJC Rules Massachusetts Retail and Inside Salespersons Entitled to Overtime and Sunday Premium Pay

For several decades the Massachusetts overtime statute, G.L. c. 151, §1A, required generally that an employee working in excess of forty hours per week be paid “at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.”  The statute included twenty categories of exceptions from this overtime pay requirement.  One such exemption applied to laborers “engaged in agriculture and farming on a farm.” G.L. c. 151 §1A(19).  The SJC has recently held, however, that farm growing and harvesting “does not include post-harvesting activities.”  The case is Arias – Villano v. Chang & Sons Enterprises, Inc., 481 Mass. 625 (2019).  Thus, the laborers in Arias-Villano were entitled to time and a half for the type of work they performed beyond “agricultural and farm” work is excess of forty hours per week.  That is, growing and harvesting does not include “cleaning, sorting, and packaging” of or related to the agricultural product itself.  The workers were entitled to overtime pay for such ancillary duties.

Continue Reading “You Shall Reap More Than You Sow” Under a New Interpretation of the Massachusetts Overtime Statute’s Agricultural 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?