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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

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In July 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed the BRAVE Act, a wide-ranging piece of legislation including a number of provisions aimed at increasing the support and services available to veterans and their families.  Among other things, the act provides increased tax relief and access to educational programs and other resources to veterans.  The BRAVE Act also updates state law with regard to the time off provided to veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Veterans Entitled to Time Off on Veterans Day

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.

Continue Reading New State Trade Secret Law was Nearly a Secret Itself

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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.

Continue Reading First Lawsuit Filed Under Massachusetts Equal Pay Act

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.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Attorney General Steps Up Enforcement of “Ban the Box” Law

This week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that unused accrued sick time does not constitute “wages” that must be paid upon termination under the Massachusetts Wage Act.  This decision, Mui v. Massachusetts Port Authority, resolves a previously unsettled question in Massachusetts wage and hour law.

Continue Reading Massachusetts High Court Rules That Unused Accrued Sick Time Is Not “Wages”

Photo: Governor Charlie Baker (Public Domain)

Last week, Governor Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into law, which guarantees greater protections for pregnant women and nursing mothers in the workplace.  The bill had unanimously passed in both the House and Senate.  The law prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee because of pregnancy or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child and from denying these employees a reasonable accommodation when it would not cause the employer undue hardship.

Please click here for a more detailed discussion of the law.

The law will take effect on April 1, 2018.  Employers should start reviewing their current policies now in order to make the necessary revisions to comply with the law.

In a highly-anticipated decision issued yesterday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a suit filed by a woman who was fired because of her off-duty use of medical marijuana.  The SJC held that the woman’s claims for disability discrimination under the Massachusetts antidiscrimination statute, G.L. ch. 151B, could go forward.

Continue Reading Massachusetts High Court Reinstates Suit by Employee Fired for Off-Duty Medical Marijuana Use

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

One of the key provisions of the new Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (which goes into effect on July 1, 2018) is that it prohibits employers from requiring prospective employees to disclose their salary history.  The reasoning behind this provision is as follows:  if employers are allowed to ask applicants about their salary history, and base compensation on the answers to those questions, applicants who have been on the receiving end of discriminatory pay practices in the past will continue to be hampered by past pay inequity throughout their careers.  If employers cannot base pay on what an applicant made previously, so the thinking goes, employers will have to set pay based on what the job is worth.

Continue Reading New Survey Shows How Questions About Prior Salary Harm Female Job Applicants

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Photo: TipsTimesAdmin via Flickr (CC by 2.0) – tipstimes.com

Earlier this week, Massachusetts House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a law that would guarantee greater protections for pregnant women and nursing mothers.  The legislation prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee because of “pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy,” which is defined to include the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.  It also prohibits employers from denying pregnant women and nursing mothers reasonable accommodations if requested by the employee unless it would impose an undue hardship upon the employer.  The bill provides the following examples of such reasonable accommodations: Continue Reading Massachusetts House Passes Legislation to Protect Pregnant and Nursing Mothers in the Workplace