Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act— New Notification and Contribution Deadlines

The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to all employers who have at least one employee in Massachusetts. On June 14, 2019, the original notification and contribution dates were delayed by several months. The current deadline for making required notifications to employees is now September 30, 2019. Starting October 1, 2019, employers must take the required deductions from employee payroll, make any required employer contributions, and remit contributions to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund (the “Trust Fund”).  Because of the delay in the start date for deductions and contributions, the contribution rate has also been adjusted. Paid family and medical leave benefits will be available beginning in 2021. Employee Notification Massachusetts employers must provide an appropriate notification of the new law to members of their workforce by the extended deadline of September 30, 2019. The notification requirements include both providing a written notice directly to employees and displaying a workplace poster in a conspicuous place. The Department of Family and Medical Leave has made available template notices on its website.   An employer who provided written notices to employees prior to June 14, 2019 (the date the delay was announced), will need to provide employees with...

Cain Hibbard facilitates Greenagers’ acquisition of historic South Egremont property

Cain Hibbard partner Syd Smithers guided Greenagers, Inc., a non-profit organization that engages teens and young adults in meaningful work in environmental conservation, sustainable farming and natural resource management, through the complex process of acquiring the historic April Hill property on Undermountain Road, South Egremont.  The property will serve as the new headquarters for the energetic non-profit under the strong leadership of its Executive Director Will Conklin of Sheffield. The original house on the April Hill property dates back to 1744, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.  Beginning in 1976, April Hill served as the summer home of Charles and Mary Margaret Kellogg. In 2004, Mary Margaret Kellogg donated the property to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for educational, historic preservation, recreational, agricultural and conservation activities. In 2017, after a solicitation of proposals, The Conservancy chose Greenagers to be the next steward of April Hill. Acquisition of the property presented some special legal challenges, as it is protected by a scenic easement, an agricultural preservation restriction, a historic preservation restriction, and a conservation restriction. To accomplish a successful succession of stewardship, Syd Smithers redrafted and updated property protections in a way designed to preserve its...

Diane DeGiacomo to speak at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Conference, March 27th, Springfield, MA

Diane DeGiacomo, chair of the firm’s litigation department will serve as a featured speaker at “Cutting Edge Issues in Western Massachusetts Family Law Practice”, along with distinguished family law lawyers and judges from the four western counties. In prior years, she has discussed recent, important court decisions and legislative changes in Massachusetts law as well as demonstrated the art of persuasion in a mock argument involving complex financial matters. This year, she will focus on how to prove your case, with an in-depth look into different tools to obtain critical discovery and methods to turn testimony and written documents into persuasive evidence admissible at trial. For more details and registration information, please visit:

Berkshire Real Estate Attorney Syd Smithers secures zone map change that achieves unified zoning for North Adams developer

Cain Hibbard partner Syd Smithers was successful in achieving a zone map change in North Adams that should help to ease development efforts of The Beyond Place, LLC, the parent entity developing the new Tourists Hotel on State Road in North Adams. Over the course of a year or more, the developer and three related entities had acquired nine separate parcels of land on State Road and in the Village of Blackinton in furtherance of their plans for Tourists Hotel and related development, including a restaurant.  The properties were located in four different zoning districts by the City of North Adams zoning ordinance. Having its properties governed by disparate zoning requirements introduced elements of uncertainty and inconsistency into the overall development concept envisioned for Tourists Hotel. In order to promote a sensible and comprehensive redevelopment of the several properties for its hotel and related purposes, pursuant to a master plan, The Beyond Place, LLC engaged Smithers, a Berkshire real estate attorney, to seek consistent zoning treatment and predictability.  Smithers prepared the necessary zone map amendment petition to the North Adams City Council and Planning Board and led the development team through presentations to a joint public hearing by the City...

Vicki Donahue, President of the Berkshire County Bar Association, hosts Joseph Berman, General Counsel of Board of Bar Overseers, at Berkshire Bar Annual Meeting

Vicki Donahue, President of the Berkshire County Bar Association, hosted Joseph Berman, General Counsel of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, at the Berkshire Bar’s Annual Meeting held May 30, 2018. The Berkshire County Bar Association, a volunteer membership organization, seeks to foster professionalism among Berkshire County lawyers and equal access to the legal system by all in need of legal services. In her opening remarks at the annual meeting, Vicki spoke to the importance of taking advantage of the support and collegiality that the Berkshire Bar affords attorneys practicing in the County, as well as the need for all attorneys to continue to strive to improve their competencies, particularly in the area of technology and the law. Mr. Berman followed, speaking eloquently about the history of lawyer self-regulation, dating back as early as the 17th century, and the role of the BBO not just in policing the practice of law, but as a resource for the vast majority of lawyers who want to do the right thing every day for their clients and the profession. Vicki, who chairs Cain Hibbard’s Business and Banking Group, was elected President of the Berkshire County Bar Association by her peers effective September 1,...

Historic Massachusetts Equal Pay Law Becomes Effective July 1, 2018 – Make Sure You Are Ready

On July 1, 2018, the updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Act[1] will go into effect to remedy the continuing gender wage gap between male and female wage earners. Under the new legislation, all Massachusetts employers are prohibited from paying employees of different genders a different wage for performing comparable work. The law’s scope includes out-of-state employers who have employees with a primary place of work within Massachusetts. Under existing law, an employer must pay equal wages where jobs are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions, and substantive content.  For example, while food service work and janitorial work require comparable skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions, the jobs are not comparable because they are substantively different and therefore, unequal wages between the two jobs is acceptable. Under the new law, however, comparable work is more broadly defined. Even if two jobs are substantively different, they can be considered comparable, thus requiring equal pay. Thus, a food service job may be considered comparable to a janitorial job if the two jobs require similar skills, effort, responsibilities and working conditions, even though they are substantively different positions. “Wages” includes incentive pay, deferred compensation and the opportunity to participate in benefit programs under the...

Diane M. DeGiacomo Named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers 2018

Best Lawyers has named Cain Hibbard partner Diane M. DeGiacomo as a 2018 “Lawyer of the Year.” This distinction is presented annually to one outstanding lawyer in a particular specialty and geographical area who has achieved the highest consensus opinion of their professional abilities by their colleagues. Ms. DeGiacomo was one of only two lawyers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts selected in the area of family law, with the other lawyer practicing in Boston.

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...

Diane DeGiacomo speaks at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Conference

Diane DeGiacomo, chair of the firm’s litigation department, again served as a featured speaker at “Cutting Edge Issues in Western Massachusetts Family Law Practice”, along with distinguished family law lawyers and judges from the four western counties. In prior years, she has highlighted and discussed recent, important court decisions and legislative changes in Massachusetts law. This year, she demonstrated the art of persuasion in a mock argument involving complex financial matters to the judges who also served as panelists.       

Syd Smithers speaks at the MA Municipal Law Conference

Syd Smithers once again participated in MCLE’s annual Municipal Law Conference. Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association presented the 16th annual Municipal Law Conference on March 7, 2018. Partner Syd Smithers, who has previously participated as an author and speaker at the annual municipal law conference once again did so, presenting materials on Streets, Ways and Easements for the municipal lawyer.  Other distinguished speakers at the conference included Mark Bobrowski, MA zoning and land-use expert and Gregor MacGregor, MA environmental law expert.