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, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 


Is the DOL Getting Hot Around the Collar with the White Collar Exemption?

As most employers know by now, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") has proposed amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act's ("FLSA") "white collar" exemption tests for executive, administrative, and professional employees. If you have not yet heard, you can learn more here. The proposed amendments revise the salary basis test by, among other things, more than doubling the annual salary required for an employee to be considered exempt from overtime or minimum wage provisions under the FLSA's white collar exemptions. Currently, the white collar exemptions in 29 CFR Part 541 require employers to pay employees a salary of at least $455 per week ($23,660 annually) and to perform certain exempt duties. The proposed amendments increase the salary basis test from $455 per week to $970 per week ($50,440 annually) beginning in 2016, although the final salary figures may be even higher.

The DOL has published a regulatory agenda that shows a July, 2016 timeframe for issuing the "Final Rule" revised regulations. U.S. Solicitor of Labor Patricia Smith commented recently at an American Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section event that the revisions would not likely be forthcoming until "late 2016", which some interpreted to mean possibly not until after the elections. It is not unusual for DOL to fail to meet the target dates given its published agendas. So exactly when the new regulations will be released remains uncertain, although it seems very unlikely it will be before July of 2016. 

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When It Is Not A Laughing Matter

While this blog does attempt to bring humor to employment law, we by no means make light of the difficult issues that corporations are faced with when interacting with employees. This blog post will not be filled with puns or YouTube videos, but instead will focus on the events of the last week.

Over the last week society has been inundated with information from a wide variety of sources concerning ISIS, National Security, and a compelling mixture of tangentially related topics. Many people have “defriended,” “unfollowed,” or otherwise tweeted their displeasure with acquaintances' views on immigration, Paris, Beirut, terrorism, and other related topics. These are not issues that should, or even could, be disregarded or hidden, but they are also topics that bring with them a host of employment issues when they are discussed in the workplace, specifically national origin and race.

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Nerds Develop Formula to Replace HR Managers

Here’s one from the too depressing to read before I’ve had my 5th cup of coffee file. Our friends at Bloomberg Business are reporting that an algorithm did a better job of selecting job candidates than real live human beings. Like you. And me.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (motto: 4% More Boring Than You Think We Are™) compared the tenure of more than 300,000 hires in low-skill service-sector jobs (like data entry and call center work) hired based on the algorithmic recommendations of a job test with individuals that humans hired. (The test asked the applicants a variety of questions and ran their responses through an algorithm, which then ranked the job candidates: green for high potential ones, yellow for moderate potential, and red for the lowest rated.)

Key takeaways:

  • Greens stayed at the job 12 days longer than yellows, who stayed 17 days longer than reds.

That may not sound like much, however, according to the article, the median duration of employees in these jobs is only about three months to begin with.

  • The more managers deviated from the test’s recommendations, the less likely candidates were to stay in their jobs.

An example: when recruiters hired a yellow instead of available greens, who were subsequently hired to fill other open positions, those greens stayed at the jobs about 8% longer.

  • The study also suggests that the individuals hired by humans were no more and in some cases, less productive that the algorithm’s recommended hires.

The actual study is available here - for $5.

It would be interesting to see if these results could be replicated for hires in more skilled industries. Until then, there’s only one sensible response to this automated takeover of the HR industry, and it ain’t another cup of coffee.


It Costs How Much? Study Illustrates the Insane Cost of Employment Litigation

How about a little pop quiz? Which of the following costs approximately $125,000?

A. Each guest at your wedding - if you’re Kim & Kanye
B. A monster truck for your kid. Or
C. The defense and settlement of the average employment discrimination charge.

The answer, as always, is D - all of the above.

Option C comes to us via a study released by insurance provide Hiscox Ltd., which surveyed discrimination charges filed with the EEOC and its state equivalents1 to come up with that number.

Hiscox’s study has a number of interesting tidbits, including:

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DOL Begins Enforcement of Home Care Worker Rule on November 12; Private Actions Have Already Begun

The FLSA has long excluded home care workers from its minimum wage and overtime provisions. This has all changed, however, due to the Department of Labor’s 2013 Home Care Rule. The Home Care Rule went into effect on January 1, 2015 and requires that home care workers employed by third party staffing agencies be paid the minimum wage and overtime.

The Rule was challenged in the District Court for the District of Columbia by a number of trade associations that represent employers of home care workers. In December 2014, the District Court held that the Rule was invalid, finding that the Department of Labor had ignored congressional intent and exceeded its authority in issuing the Rule.

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Is an Applicant's Past Drug Addiction and Current Use of "Chocolate Chip Cookies," "Fizzies," and "Wafer" a Disability?

You, like I, may not have been up-to-date on Methadone’s street names—but now you are. After that brief (but important) education, we turn to why this information is relevant to your workforce and human resources practice.

Earlier this month, the EEOC filed a Complaint against a Maryland-based company alleging disability discrimination as a result of the company’s failure to hire a recovering drug addict who was currently using methadone. The Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges: “Cox’s [sic] has a record of a disability based upon her 19-year drug addition,” and as a result “Defendant regarded Cox as having a disability based on her methadone use.” (Complaint, ¶13g,h.)

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