Massachusetts News & Analysis

  • MA imposes additional obligations on employers that experience data breaches

    Even companies that you would expect to have highly sophisticated data protection systems remain vulnerable to breaches. Just last year, for instance, Facebook discovered a security issue that permitted hackers to access information that could have allowed them to take over more than 50 million accounts. Consistent with the ever-growing issue of cybersecurity, employers' obligations under Massachusetts' data breach law have recently been expanded to provide additional protections for people whose information may have gotten into the hands of the wrong person.

  • Mexican standoff: Can employee take a vacation from his leave of absence?

    As New Englanders, we know that a March vacation to a locale with warmer weather can be good for the body and the soul. Of course, there's a right way and a right time to take vacation. In a recent case, an employer determined that taking vacation while on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave was the wrong way and the wrong time. But that decision turned out to be a costly one for the employer.

  • Individual coverage HRAs probably not option for 2020

    On his very first day in office, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to lessen the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) burden on the organizations and individuals who were subject to its requirements. More than two years later, the ACA is limping along, but the Trump administration is still working to carry out that order.

  • Workplace Trends

    Tight labor market tops HR concerns, survey says. Attracting talent has surpassed regulatory compliance as the top HR concern, according to the 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, released on June 24. More than two-thirds of HR leaders reported difficulty finding and hiring quality candidates, up from 59% last year. When asked specifically about challenges related to hiring, HR professionals most often cited finding qualified candidates (49%), retaining their best employees (49%), and finding candidates who fit their company culture (42%). The survey reported that as a result of those challenges, HR teams are increasingly willing to train job candidates who may not check all the boxes for required skills. The survey showed 85% of HR leaders would be willing to train and upskill an underqualified candidate, and 78% said their organizations have already benefited from upskilling underqualified workers.

  • Union Activity

    UAW urges Congress to review labor laws. The United Auto Workers (UAW) in June called on Congress to take a comprehensive look at the country's labor laws and rules from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affecting the UAW's ability to form a union at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. UAW spokesperson Brian Rothenberg said Volkswagen was able to delay bargaining and a vote "through legal games." Calling the labor laws "broken," Rothenberg said workers shouldn't have "to endure threats and intimidation in order to obtain the right to collectively bargain." He said current law "caters to clever lawyers who are able to manipulate the NLRB process."

  • Commission-only salespeople entitled to overtime in Massachusetts

    Massachusetts employers with nonexempt employees who are paid entirely in commissions or receive advances toward their commissions, called draws, must be careful about paying overtime, according to a new case. In a recent decision, the highest state court in Massachusetts—the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC)—determined that nonexempt 100% commission employees are entitled to additional compensation when they work more than 40 hours in a given workweek and to Sunday pay even if their total compensation for the workweek equals or exceeds minimum wage for the first 40 hours and at least 1 times the minimum wage for the hours over 40. So what can Massachusetts employers learn from the case?

  • DOL updates opinion on independent contractors for the gig economy

    Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a decidedly industry-friendly approach to the independent contractor analysis. If there was any doubt before, that was made clear by its recent issuance of a whopping 10-page opinion letter examining the nature of the relationship between a virtual marketplace company (think Uber) and the "gig" workers they employ (e.g., Uber drivers).

  • Massachusetts: the best state for working mothers!

    Back in August 2015, we reported that WalletHub analyzed state dynamics across key metrics to determine the best states for working mothers and ranked Massachusetts fifth on the list (see "Massachusetts: a great state for working mothers!" of our August 2015 issue). WalletHub took a look at the best and worst states for working mothers again in 2019 and determined that Massachusetts is the best state in which to be a working mother. Read on to learn why.

  • What does it mean to be a farmer?

    Employers small and large are familiar with the concept of overtime pay. If a nonexempt employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek, his employer needs to pay an overtime premium for the hours he worked in excess of 40. Most employers are equally familiar with the concept of exemptions from overtime pay: Employees who are properly classified as exempt generally are not owed overtime pay. However, what escapes many employers is the breadth of overtime-exempt classifications.

  • Supreme Court ruling raises stakes in Title VII claims

    If an employee files a timely Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, can she later raise new discrimination allegations after the filing deadline has passed? That's the issue addressed in a new decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Spoiler alert: The answer is no, unless the employer—or more accurately, its attorney—doesn't notice. To understand the Court's ruling, it's helpful to understand the EEOC's role in discrimination claims.