Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Imposes New Obligations on Employers

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”)[1] goes into effect April 1, 2018. Are you ready?   The Act applies to all employers with six or more employees. In creating a new protected class, the Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy.  An employee may have a condition related to pregnancy during or after pregnancy.  Examples are morning sickness, lactation, or the need to express breast milk. No later than April 1, 2018, employers must provide written notice, in a handbook, pamphlet, or some other form, to all employees of the “right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including, but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy.”[2] In addition to the general notice requirement, written notice of rights under the Act must be provided to (1) all new employees at or prior to commencement of employment; and (2) to employees who notify the employer of a pregnancy or an employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy-related condition, no more than 10...

Employers Must Pay Employees for Voluntarily Working Through Lunch

Employers may be required to pay overtime when employees voluntarily work during their lunch breaks, even if the employees fail to record these hours. In VItali v. Reit Management and Research LLC, an employee  regularly worked during her lunch break.  She sued her employer for overtime pay that she would have received had this time been recorded.  The employer claimed that it did not owe the employee overtime pay because (1) she never reported the hours in question; and (2) she had not complied with a company policy requiring her to obtain her manager’s approval before working overtime. The Appeals Court ruled in favor of the employee. It noted that the employer should have known employees worked during lunch because many employees had asked how to record lunch hours.  It also noted that the overtime policy was not consistently enforced and would not necessarily apply to hours worked during lunch. To ensure that your business complies with the overtime pay laws, keep the following in mind: Make it is easy for employees to record any hours they work during lunch. Train employees on how to use your time-keeping system. You, not your employees, are responsible to ensure that all employee...

Attorney General Issues Final Regulations to New Sick Leave Law

CLIENT ALERT July 1, 2015 Under Massachusetts’s new sick leave law, voted into law on November 4, 2014, employees are entitled to forty hours of sick time per calendar year, with one hour of sick time accruing for every thirty hours worked. Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid sick time. Employers with fewer than eleven employees may provide unpaid sick time. The Attorney General has issued Final Regulations that address ambiguities in the new law. They retain the main points contained in the Proposed Regulations and described in CLIENT ALERT: ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES PROPOSED REGULATIONS TO NEW SICK LEAVE LAW. The Final Regulations also expand upon the Proposed Regulations by answering the following questions in more detail. May I Cap Accrual of Sick Time at Forty Hours? Yes. When an employee accrues forty hours of sick time in a calendar year, no additional time is accrued regardless of additional hours worked. Where an employee’s sick time bank reaches forty hours, you may opt to delay further accrual until the employee draws down the bank to below forty hours. May Earned Sick Time Run Concurrently with FMLA and Other Federal and State Leave Laws? Yes. Earned sick time...

Extension available to certain employers for compliance with new Massachusetts Sick time Law

CLIENT ALERT May 18, 2015 Extension available to certain employers for compliance with new Massachusetts Sick Time Law Employers who currently offer sick leave to their employees may now have an additional six months to comply with the provisions of the new Massachusetts sick time law.  The original effective date of the law was July 1, 2015, but employers who qualify for the extension have until January 1, 2016 to implement the new law.  To qualify, the employer must have had as of May 1, 2015 a paid time off policy that provides employees with the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.  By July 1, 2015, paid time off must be provided to all employees, including part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers.  Employers may provide proportional amounts of paid time off to part-time employees and employees hired after July 1, 2015.  The paid time off must be job-protected and subject to the new law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions. Employers who did not maintain a paid time off policy as of May 1, 2015 do not qualify for the extension, and must comply with the new law by the...

Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations to New Sick Leave Law

CLIENT ALERT May 18, 2015 Attorney General Issues Proposed Regulations to New Sick Leave Law Under Massachusetts’ new sick leave law, signed into law on November 4, 2014, employees are entitled to forty hours of sick time per calendar year, with one hour of sick time accruing for every thirty hours worked.  [See Client Alert:  New Law Mandates Employers Provide Sick Leave.]  Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid sick time.  Employers with fewer than eleven employees may provide unpaid sick time.  The Attorney General has issued proposed regulations that address ambiguities in the new law.    Since the proposed regulations are scheduled to be made final only days before July 1, 2015 – the effective date of the law – the Attorney General has implemented a six-month extension for qualifying employers.   [See Client Alert:  Certain Employers Have Six Month “Safe Harbor” Period.]  An overview of the proposed regulations follows. Do Paid Time Off Banks Meet the Sick Time Law’s Requirements? Yes, if (i) one hour of PTO accrues for every thirty hours worked, and (ii) the PTO may be taken for the same reasons as sick time.  Leave policies are also permitted to provide more than forty hours...

Client Alert: Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act expanded to include men and to provide additional protections to employees

On January 7, 2015, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a Parental Leave Bill, amending the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (“MMLA”).  The MMLA had provided eight weeks of job-protected leave to female employees for the birth or adoption of a child.  The Parental Leave Bill expands this protection to include men and to provide certain additional protections. As amended, the parental leave law provides: Eight weeks of job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child, regardless of whether the employee is male or female. Eight weeks of job-protected leave for the placement of a child with an employee pursuant to court order. A presumption that employees taking parental leaves that exceed eight weeks are also entitled to job protection, unless the employer provides written notice to the employee that leave for longer than eight weeks is not job-protected.  That notice must be provided before the leave begins and again at the end of the eight-week period.  (This provision of the new law overrides a prior Supreme Judicial Court decision – Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus – which held that job protection only applied to the first eight weeks of leave.) Two individuals who work for the same employer...

New Law Mandates Employers Provide Sick Leave

On November 4, 2014, the voters of Massachusetts approved a ballot question that grants employees forty hours of sick time per calendar year.  Employers with eleven or more employees must provide paid leave.  Employers with ten or fewer employees may provide unpaid leave.   All employees are entitled to the leave, including part-time and temporary workers. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2015. Employees may use the sick time to (1) attend to their own illness or the illness of their child, spouse, parent, or in-laws; (2) attend routine medical appointments; or (3) address the effects of domestic violence in their household. One hour of sick time is earned for every thirty hours an employee works.  Employees begin accruing sick time on their date of hire, or on July 1, 2015, whichever is later.  Employees are not eligible to use accrued sick time until ninety days after the start of their employment.  They may carry over accrued sick time into the next year, but may only use a maximum of forty hours of sick time in one year. Employees may use sick time in hourly increments, or in the smallest unit of time that their employer uses to track...

Client Alert: New Rights for Employees Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence

On August 8, 2014, Governor Patrick signed into law “An Act Relative to Domestic Violence,” which applies to employers of 50 or more employees. The Act permits an employee, who is a victim of abusive behavior, or whose family member is a victim of abusive behavior, to take up to 15 days of leave from work in any 12 month period.  The employee requesting the leave cannot be the perpetrator of the abusive behavior. The leave may be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion. The employee must exhaust all vacation, personal and sick leave before requesting or taking the leave, unless the exhaustion requirement is waived by the employer. Purpose of the leave. The leave must be used to seek or obtain services related to the abusive behavior (medical attention, counseling, victim services, legal assistance, housing), to participate in related legal proceedings (appearing before a grand jury, meeting with a district attorney or law enforcement officials, attending child custody proceedings, or obtaining a protective order), or to address other issues directly related to the abusive behavior. Notice requirements. The employee is required to give the employer advance notice of the leave consistent with the employer’s leave policies, unless there...

Client Alert: New Legal Protection for Transgender Individuals in Massachusetts

JANUARY 31, 2012 Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” also known as the “transgender equal rights law,” which expands Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws to protect from discrimination against transgender individuals in employment, education, housing, and credit.  The legislation makes “gender identity” a protected class alongside others such as race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, disability, mental illness, sexual orientation, and genetics.  The legislation also expands the Massachusetts hate crimes statutes to add “gender identity” as a protected class.   The new law will go into effect July 1, 2012. 1.  What is Gender Identity?  The new law defines “gender identity” as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.”  A person may prove his or her gender identity by demonstrating “medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity.”  The law therefore appears to protect not only those individuals who have had...

Regulations impose new obligations in handling personal information and preventing identity crimes

Both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government have issued new regulations designed to help safeguard the personal information of consumers.  The federal regulations, known as the “Red Flag Rules,” were promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) in conjunction with several other agencies.  The Red Flag Rules became effective January 1, 2008, but the FTC delayed enforcement thereof until January 1, 2011 while Congress finalized legislation limiting the scope of businesses covered by the Rules.  The Red Flag Rules require financial institutions and creditors who maintain certain types of customer accounts to develop and implement programs designed to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.  Each program must include policies and procedures to identify and detect account activity that may signal identity theft (“Red Flags”) and to respond appropriately to these Red Flags when they are detected.  The term “creditor”, as defined in the Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010, means a creditor that (a) obtains or uses consumer reports in connection with a credit transaction, (b) furnishes information to consumer reporting agencies in connection with a credit transaction or (c) advances funds to or on behalf of a person, based on an obligation of the person to...