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. 

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Donuts & Pregnancy Rumors: A Cautionary Tale

Employment law attorneys know that there are two rock solid truisms in this world:

1. Donuts = good; and

2. Discriminating against an employee because of her rumored pregnancy = bad.

These two concepts appear to have collided with the EEOC’s recent announcement that it has filed suit against a Katy, Texas-area franchise of Shipley’s Do-Nuts, alleging that Shipley’s violated federal anti-discrimination laws by forcing an employee suspected of being pregnant to take unpaid leave until her doctor cleared her and then firing the employee when she failed to provide a release and after she and her mother disputed the requirement’s legality.

Gentle reader, we implore you, please call us before you end up in an EEOC press release alleging that you confronted one of your employees based on informal reports that she was pregnant and asked her intrusive personal questions about it. Maybe we could meet to discuss it. Over coffee. And a bagel.


Massachusetts Maternity Leave Rights Extended to Males

On his last day in office, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an amendment to the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (“MMLA”), extending coverage of the Act to male employees. The new law will go into effect April 7, 2015, and will provide male employees the same rights afforded to female employees: eight weeks of job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The law was further expanded to cover leaves of absence for the placement of a child with an employee pursuant to court order. The MMLA applies to employers with six or more employees.

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She’s Not a Beauty School Drop Out But She Could Be Creating A Cut and Color FLSA Nightmare

Earlier this week a District Court judge in the District of Nevada denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss in an FLSA class action lawsuit. The case, Guy v. Casal Institute of Nevada, stems from allegations by the plaintiff that while attending a for-profit cosmetology and esthetics services school “which trains paying students to learn and practice the trades of cosmetology and esthetic services,” she was forced to work unpaid at the school’s for-profit business that provided cosmetology and esthetic services to the public for a fee. She alleges that her work did include cosmetology and esthetic services, but also included janitorial and administrative tasks which she alleges did not further her education in any regard. She has brought the FLSA claim as a class action on behalf of herself and other similarly situated employees.

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New Hampshire Decision Clarifies Accommodation Request Threshold and Reminds Employers of Importance of Manager Training

On December 29, 2014, the District of New Hampshire issued a decision denying Summary Judgment and allowing a claim under the ADA to proceed to a jury after the former employee’s supervisor stated: “Your Asperger’s got in the way of your ability to interact with your boss, and we are tired of it,” while informing the former employee that his employment contract would not be renewed. Bellerose v. SAU 39, 13-cv-404.

The summary judgment record presented to the Court was filled with contradictory evidence, including medical documentation from the time in question that indicated the Plaintiff did not have Asperger’s Disorder. Plaintiff, however, presented a recent medical evaluation diagnosing Asperger’s Disorder. Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court accepted that the plaintiff was an individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA. In determining that the ultimate termination and disability may be causally connected, the Court based it’s decision off the principal’s statement that the plaintiff’s “Asperger’s got in the way of [his] ability to interact with [his] boss.” As a result, the Court allowed the ADA discrimination claim to proceed.

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Manic Monday: Michigan Pre-Emptively “Tackles” the Unionized College Athlete Issue

On December 30, 2014, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation (H.B. 6074) that excludes public college and university athletes in Michigan from the definition of “public employees” entitled to collectively bargain under Michigan law—thus effectively barring them from unionizing. The law’s purpose was to ensure “that college athletes are students, first and foremost, and should not be treated as employees by their schools.” The legislation comes as we await the NLRB’s decision on the unionization efforts by football players at Northwestern University. More about the legislation available here.


Home Care Agencies Have a New Year’s Resolution Per the Department of Labor: Paying Minimum Wage and Overtime to Their Employees

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule concerning domestic service workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) goes into effect on January 1, 2015.[1] The “Home Care Final Rule” amended the domestic service employment regulations under the FLSA by 1) modifying the definition of “companionship services” and 2) prohibiting third party employers from claiming the companionship services exemption from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements, or the live-in domestic service employee exemption from FLSA’s overtime compensation requirement.[2] 

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