Massachusetts News & Analysis

  • 1st Circuit affirms labor law protections for nonunion employee

    A Maine hospital violated federal labor law when it fired an employee for publishing an op-ed in the local paper criticizing the employer, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island employers) recently decided, affirming a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling.

  • Connecticut legislative session creates headaches for employers

    Connecticut's legislative session recently wrapped up with the passage of some new laws that will unfortunately create headaches for employers, including separate measures requiring the disclosure of salary information and restricting hiring managers from asking about a job applicant's age.

  • Vermont Supreme Court addresses retirement benefits, breach of fiduciary duty

    The Vermont Supreme Court recently considered whether a surviving spouse could collect her husband's retirement allowance under the Vermont State Employees' Retirement System (VSERS) even though he failed to designate her as a beneficiary. The court dismissed the claims, including breach of fiduciary duty, finding the state had clearly informed the husband that if no beneficiary was designated, the allowance couldn't be collected. Although specific to Vermont state employers and employees, you should take note of a recent increase in breach of fiduciary duty claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The surge underscores that ERISA fiduciaries should be familiar with the duties owed to employees under the plans.

  • Let's make a deal: Employers offer incentives for vaccinations

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued guidance about whether employers may offer incentives to employees or their family members to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Although the guidelines are general in nature and don't provide specific answers about the amount you may offer as an incentive, they do provide some clarity on the do's and don'ts.

  • Time to hit reset on remote workers' expectations

    Finally, the time has arrived when most or all of your employees may safely resume on-site work. After discovering how effectively many of them can work remotely, however, some of you are rethinking your workforce management strategies and allowing more flexibility for employees to work from home (1) part of each week, (2) all the time, or (3) simply as business obligations allow. Being intentional about setting shared expectations can help your employees make more informed choices about whether to take advantage of the flexible work options and avoid unpleasant surprises at evaluation time.

  • Employers beginning to navigate the age of workforce ecosystems

    It didn't take a pandemic to get workforce experts thinking about the future of work. Freelancers, gig workers, remote workers, and others who don't fit the traditional 9-to-5 mold have been playing important roles for years. The pandemic did, however, spark more thinking about the best ways to acquire, retain, and benefit from various kinds of talent.

  • Looking to hire? Luring candidates not what it used to be

    Employers have learned they must get creative when competing for top talent. No longer will the promise of a basic health plan be enough. Now, traditional enticements are just the beginning, and organizations are going to new heights to attract the best and the brightest.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Developing women leaders called key priority. The Challenger Leadership Survey from outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., says a key priority for business and HR leaders is developing women leaders as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, released in May, found that 93% of leaders from companies across the country said "developing women leaders" is the most critical leadership issue. Another 88% said "developing leaders with both unseen and seen diversity" is most critical post-COVID. "No doubt reestablishing women talent is critical to the recovery from the pandemic-induced recession, and leaders are acutely aware . . . that they need this representation in their executive levels and are actively investing in it," Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., said.

  • Federal Watch

    States get guidance on recovery of unemployment overpayments. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter that provides states with guidance on addressing unemployment insurance benefit overpayments established by states for programs authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. An overpayment occurs when a state finds individuals received a payment or payments to which they are not entitled. The guidance says states may choose to waive recovery of overpayments under certain circumstances when an individual isnt at fault. Also, participating states must generally refund payments recovered before the guidances issuance if the state determines the individual meets the waiver provisions. The guidance also states that in cases in which individuals collected CARES Act benefits fraudulently, states must assess monetary penalties in addition to requiring repayments. Individuals who defrauded the program may also face criminal prosecution.

  • Q - A: Determining work restrictions when hiring minors

    Q We are a moving and storage company, with offices in multiple states. If we were to hire minors (say 16 or 17), are there any limitations to the hours and duties they could perform?