Top Employment Law Changes for Massachusetts Businesses- End of Year Review

By Sasha Thaler

2014 brought a number of legislative changes which will affect Massachusetts employers of all sizes in 2015.  Here is a recap of the top 5 changes employers should be prepared for in the New Year. Read more

OFCCP Issues Final Rule to Protect LGBT Workers in the Federal Contracting Workforce

On July 21, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13672, amending Executive Order 11246, applicable to federal contractors and subcontractors, to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the categories protected by E.O. 11246.  On August 19, 2014, the Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, issued a Directive to “clarify that OFCCP interprets federal contractor and subcontractor nondiscrimination obligations to include the protection of individuals on the bases of gender identity and transgender status.  Today, OFCCP published its final rule implementing E.O. 13672.  The rule will be effective on April 4, 2015, 120 days following the rule’s publication in the Federal Register, and will apply to federal contracts entered into or modified after the effective date.

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Mandatory Paid Sick Time- Massachusetts Voters Say “Yes”

By Jennifer Belli

On election day, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative requiring employers to provide sick time to their employees.  Absent legislative repeal, the mandatory sick time law will become effective on July 1, 2015.  Organizations with eleven or more employees will be required to provide paid sick time, while organizations with fewer than eleven employees must provide unpaid sick time.  Employers should review their sick time or PTO policies in the coming months to ensure compliance by the July 1, 2015 deadline.  Employers who meet the specific requirements of the new law (including those described below) in a PTO, vacation or other paid leave policy do not need to provide a separate sick time entitlement.

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Workshop: Employment Law Basics for Start-Ups and Small Businesses

On October 29, 2014, Bello Welsh will present a session on HR and Employment Law Issues for Start Ups and Small Businesses at the Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.

Start-up companies focus on developing their idea and bringing their product or service to market.  Small existing businesses work to implement their core business goals and strategies.  In either case, there is often little inclination or staff to pay close attention to day-to-day employee issues.    After all, how difficult can it be to manage a workforce comprised of a relatively few employees?  The answer is “very.” HR is a complicated patchwork of federal, state and local laws, regulations and requirements, most of which apply in some form to employers of all types and sizes.  HR problems can surface when least expected, and can be extremely time consuming and costly.

In this discussion, you’ll learn how to manage the complexities of Small Business HR and to minimize the risk of preventable lawsuits, penalties, and time-consuming employee-relations issues.  For example, you’ll learn about:

  • Creating and maintaining appropriate documentation, including job descriptions, offer letters, personnel policies, and other personnel documents;
  • Managing employee performance and terminations;
  • Managing leaves of absence;
  • Dealing with wage & hour issues; and
  • Handling internal complaints and investigations

The session will be held on October 29, 2014, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. , at the Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, in the Charles River Room (14th Floor).

Please register at the following site:




New Federal Contractor Reporting Requirements

The Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) recently issued its final rule implementing new reporting requirements under the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA).  Check out this article, penned by our affiliate, FordHarrison.

OSHA announces new requirements for reporting severe injuries

By Steven D. Weatherhead

Commencing on January 1, 2015, employers must report the following to the nearest OSHA-area office:

  •  Within 8 hours, a death in the workplace (regardless of reason or cause)
  •  Within 24 hours, and as a result of a workplace incident, the (1) hospital admission of one or more workers; (2) an amputation; and/or (3) loss of an eye.

Under the current rule, which stays into effect until December 31, 2014, employers must report a death or hospital admission of 3 or more employees, all within 8 hours.

Failure to follow these requirements can result in a $7,000 civil penalty (up to $70,000 for repeat violations) and hinder an employer’s ability to argue “good faith” in defending any resulting citations.

For more information, as well as a list of industries that, due to relatively low injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep illness and injury records, click here.



Domestic Violence under Massachusetts Law: Massachusetts Establishes New Category of Job Protected Leave

By Leigh C. Tinmouth

On August 8, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill relating to domestic violence that, among other things, establishes a new category of job-protected leave for employees (the “Law”).  Effective immediately, Massachusetts employers with fifty (50) or more employees must permit employees to take up to fifteen (15) days of unpaid leave per year if they or their family members are the victims of “abusive behavior,” which includes domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and kidnapping.   Read more

DOL Publishes Proposed Rule Requiring Submission of Compensation Data to OFCCP

On August 6, the Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would require government contractors and subcontractors to submit an annual report on employee compensation to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.   Under the terms of the proposed rule, which will be published on August 8 in the Federal Register, companies that file EEO-1 reports, have more than 100 employees and hold federal contracts or subcontracts worth $50,000 or more for at least 30 days will be required to submit  summary employee pay and demographic data on an annual basis.  If the rule is implemented in its current form, contractors and subcontractors that meet the referenced criteria will be required to submit information on W-2 compensation paid to employees categorized by sex, race, ethnicity and specified job categories, along with other information such as hours worked.

Comments to the proposed rule must be submitted by November 6, 2014.

New Executive Order Signed Requiring Federal Contractors to Disclose Employment and Labor Law Violations

By Martha J. Zackin

On Thursday July 31, Obama signed a new Executive Order requiring contractors to disclose whether there has been any administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment rendered against the contractor  within the preceding 3 years for violations of any of the following laws:

  1.  the Fair Labor Standards Act;
  2. the Occupational Safety and Health Act;
  3. the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act;
  4. the National Labor Relations Act;
  5. he Davis-Bacon Act;
  6. the Service Contract Act;
  7. Executive Order 11246 (pertaining to affirmative action);
  8. section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act;
  9. the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act;
  10. the Family and Medical Leave Act;
  11. Title VII;
  12. The ADA
  13. The ADEA
  14. Executive Order 13658 (new E.O. dated February 12, 2014, establishing a minimum wage for contractors); or
  15. equivalent State laws, as defined in guidance issued by the Department of Labor.

This requirement applies to contractors bidding on a new contracts for goods or services with a value of $500,000 or above.  Contractors working under existing covered contracts are required to provide updates every 6 months.  Click here for the associated Fact Sheet, which provides a good summary of the new Executive Order.

EEOC Issues New Guidance on Treatment of Pregnant Employees

By Leigh C. Tinmouth

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued an  enforcement guidance relating to the treatment of pregnant employees (the “Guidance”).  The Guidance reaffirms the EEOC’s position that, although pregnancy itself is not a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), many temporary pregnancy-related impairments may qualify as disabilities.  Temporary impairments that may qualify as disabilities include, for example, carpel tunnel syndrome, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and even nausea resulting in severe dehydration.  Per the EEOC, therefore, employers may be required to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with such pregnancy-related impairments.

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