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


12 Days of HR: Oh Come All Ye Faithful—Maintaining an Inclusive Workplace Around the Holidays

There’s so much to celebrate at the end of the year, and while it often feels like Christmas steals the spotlight, it’s likely that some of your employees also observe Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other celebrations throughout the season.  In light of this diversity, employers should strive to foster an inclusive atmosphere in the workplace during the holidays.  We recently discussed employees’ requests for accommodations based on their religious beliefs, and today we are offering some advice on how to handle seasonal decorations in the workplace.

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12 Days of HR: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Here’s What You Better Watch Out For When It Comes to Holiday Bonuses

He’s making a list and checking it twice—you know the drill: Santa’s game is that he rewards good behavior during the year with gifts under the tree.  And when it comes to employees, the most requested item on their list continues to be holiday bonuses.  Maybe your company is feeling the Santa-spirit and planning to reward employees with a little something extra this year.  If so, here’s a few pointers to keep in mind when divvying up that holiday cheer.

One issue that arises when it comes to holiday bonuses is whether the bonus could affect a non-exempt employee’s rate of overtime pay.  The Department of Labor’s regulations specifically address the issue, stating that “‘regular rate” shall not be deemed to include ‘sums paid as gifts; payments in the nature of gifts made at Christmas time or on other special occasions, as a reward for service, the amounts of which are not measured by or dependent on hours worked, production, or efficiency.”

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12 Days of HR: Dashing Through the Snow in a One-Horse Open Sleigh Could Result in a Work-Related Injury

As every New Englander knows, during this time of year the roads get frosty and even short trips become trickier.  Even the most responsible employer cannot fully protect his employees from slip and falls in the parking lot following a snowstorm, or fender-benders while traveling for work.  As a result, it makes sense to remind your employees about steps to take to minimize the risk of an injury while out and about on company business.

First, a policy not to use cell phones while driving on company business is essential. The last thing any employer needs is a distracted employee-driver out on a snowy road, barreling along with the company logo prominently on display as the vehicle smashes into the car ahead.  If a work-related call is necessary, the employee must pull over and focus all of his or her attention on the call.  During snowstorms, it may make sense to be even more cautious about where the employee pulls the vehicle over, as in slippery conditions, it is possible to be the victim of another vehicle sliding into the company vehicle even on the shoulder of the road.

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12 Days of HR: Does Your Company have a “Baby It's Cold Outside” Attitude and What To Do To Change That?

In recent years, the familiar seasonal duet “Baby Its Cold Outside” has come under fire as attitudes toward appropriate interactions between men and women have changed.  Originally intended as a song of “flirty” banter, it reads more “creepy”, with lines like “I ought to say no, no, no sir (Mind if I move in closer); At least I’m gonna say that I tried (What the sense of hurtin’ my pride).” In the year of “me too” and revelations across all business sectors of continuing sexual harassment at the highest levels of corporations, the question now needs to be asked, “what kind of training is your company doing, is it even close to adequate, and when you have problems, what corrective actions are you taking”?  In other words, do you “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk.”  If you are not putting the heat on people who act inappropriately, and that may often be termination or serious negative adverse employment consequences, then your policies are nothing more than cold coals.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: When You Need Seasonal Hires to Stock the Toys in Every Store and More

It’s no secret that the holiday seasons spark an influx of shoppers hunting for good deals and great gifts for loved ones.  Although the prevalence of online shopping has exploded in the past few years, brick-and mortar-stores likewise see an influx of activity.  I have to admit, I’m a fan of the “hustle and bustle” of days like Black Friday—except when it comes to finding parking.

To meet the demand, retail companies and related businesses often need extra hands on deck to meet this increase in consumer activity.  In fact, a recent article reported that companies planned to hire in excess of 700,000 seasonal workers nationwide this year.  If your company is one of the many planning to hire holiday help, there are certain things to keep in mind to make the season go more smoothly.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

That’s right—with the kids jinglebelling and everyone telling you to be of good cheer, we can safely say that the holiday season is here.  In years past, Verrill Dana’s Labor & Employment Practice Group has celebrated by sharing festive labor and employment lessons based on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and other holiday favorites.  This year, we are excited bring back the tradition.  Over the course of the month, we’ll once again be sharing a series stocking-stuffer tips and tricks for human resource professionals that are inspired by classic songs of the season.

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