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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at hrlawupdate@verrilldana.com, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Monday
May212018

Season-ed Employees Need Not Apply 

Earlier this month the EEOC announced that it had reached a settlement with Seasons 52, national restaurant chain. The Florida-based restaurant chain has agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle a nationwide age discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Over 135 applicants provided sworn testimony that during interviews for positions at Seasons 52 across the country, managers asked them directly about their age or made age-related comments, stating that Seasons 52 hires younger people. The EEOC’s lawsuit sought relief for applicants aged 40 and over who were ultimately denied employment at Seasons 52.

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Monday
May142018

A Podcast Miniseries, HR Law 101: Understanding the HR Basics

Whether you’re the founder of a startup, new to HR, or are looking for a refresher on some of the basics, this podcast miniseries will provide you with the building blocks necessary to successfully achieve a healthy and compliant employer/employee relationship. In each episode, Verrill Dana labor and employment attorney Tawny Alvarez informs listeners of the nuances and pitfalls of common areas of HR law, beginning the series by addressing the basics of hiring. 

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Thursday
May102018

Understanding Your Sexual Harassment Training Duties

Multiple states (and some cities) have sexual harassment requirements for certain employers.  Currently California, Connecticut, and Maine have training requirements in place and New York’s training requirement will take effect later this year.  Even if your state does not, however, require training, best practices would be to institute yearly sexual harassment training for all employees.

If you’re currently completing in house training without the use of an outside entity, or counsel, consider updating your current practices to include multiple formats of training—video, written material, quizzes, etc.  There are a multitude of publically available resources including this video, “The Coworker” produced by David Schwimmer, which can operate to start a dialogue as to what sexual harassment looks like and what aspects of the behavior—individually and collectively—is improper. [Trigger warning: this video does include examples of sexual harassment which may be disturbing to viewers.] 

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Thursday
Apr262018

Dear Byron: Emojis at Work

[Letter to Byron D. Verrill, who in 1862 began the law practice known today as Verrill Dana, LLP]

Dear Byron D. Verrill

The other day an employee asked me what our policy is on emoji use in the office.  We don’t have a policy.  Should we have a policy?

Thanks,

A. Winker

Dear A. Winker:

A what? We didn’t have emoji’s in the 1860s. Tawny, can you jump in on this one?

Absolutely! Interesting question A. Winker.  I actually recently read an article that talked about the use of emojis in a business setting and whether it’s appropriate.  I dug a little deeper, however, and the research and advice from an operational standpoint appears to be divided and situationally (and culturally) dependent. 

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Thursday
Apr192018

Dear Byron: Let's Talk About Prior Salary

[Letter to Byron D. Verrill, who in 1862 began the law practice known today as Verrill Dana, LLP]

Dear Byron D. Verrill:

When I’m interviewing applicants for a new position is it okay for me to ask about prior or current salary at other employers?

Thanks,
Hugh Gotthis

Dear Hugh,

Thanks for the note. When I started the firm in the 1860s this was definitely okay, but I didn’t do it. Instead, I paid employees in whatever I got paid in—which was sometimes lobsters, and other days laundry for a week. I think I’ll pass this one off to a colleague—Tawny, your thoughts?

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Wednesday
Apr182018

Unpaid Labor: Focus Shifts from Hollywood to Baseball to Church

In the past we have focused a lot on volunteer labor. The fact that generally an individual cannot “volunteer” to work for a for-profit business. The days of unpaid internships where someone volunteers their time to gain valuable experience has long since passed with the necessity that the individual either receive payment or the employer be able to prove a multitude of factors to disprove the assumption that the individual should have been paid minimum wage and overtime under the FLSA.

Between 2012 and 2015, we saw a host of litigation concerning unpaid interns in Hollywood and on the big screen. Most notable was the suit filed by the interns who served on the set of the movie Black Swan, which ultimately created Second Circuit precedent as to the standards to be considered in determining whether an individual could properly be categorized as an unpaid intern.

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