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...

Snakes, St. Bernards, and Other Would-Be Service Animals

So, a man with a miniature pony walks into a bar. . . Sound like the beginning of a joke?  In any public place, it is no joke, and you might be liable for discrimination if you ask the individual to leave.  This is because dogs and miniature horses may qualify as service animals if they have been trained to perform a specific task related to an individual’s disability. Under Massachusetts law, only a dog qualifies as a service animal, and its owner must have a sensory or physical disability.  Federal law is broader.  It permits miniature horses to qualify as service animals, and their owner may have any kind of disability, including a psychiatric disability.  However, even under federal law, the animal must be “trained to perform a specific task.”  If the animal’s sole function is to provide emotional support and comfort to the disabled individual, it does not qualify as a service animal.  Such “emotional support” animals need not be permitted in public places, with the exception of planes and the common areas of housing developments.  How can you tell if the dog or miniature horse is a service animal?  In some cases, it may be obvious, and...

Cain Hibbard Adds Three Lawyers to its Litigation Group

October 30, 2018 Cain Hibbard has added three lawyers to its litigation group, bolstering its capacity in the areas of domestic relations, health law, intellectual property, and complex litigation. “We feel very fortunate to have found three terrific lawyers who wanted to make the Berkshires their home, and Cain Hibbard their firm,” said Lucy Prashker, Cain Hibbard’s managing partner. Kaitlin O’Brien and Taylor Ventre both have begun with the firm as first year associates based in the firm’s Pittsfield office. Melissa Stewart, who is based in the firm’s Great Barrington office, has joined the firm after having spent several years practicing with a large firm both in Boston, and in New York City.  “It’s great not just for Cain Hibbard and our clients, but for the Berkshires to have such a wonderful influx of talented young professionals; we could not be more pleased,” said Prashker. Kaitlin O’Brien, a native of Western New York, graduated magna cum laude from Allegheny College in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in History, and from Boston University School of Law in 2018. While at BU Law, Kaitlin served as a Writing Fellow, a board member of the Women’s Law Association, and a staff member on the...