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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. 

Thursday
Jul282016

Navigating the New Overtime Rules … In the News

Now that a couple of months have passed since the Department of Labor announced the new federal overtime regulations, many employers are looking for guidance. Our Labor & Employment Group has been working tirelessly to ensure its clients and the community-at-large have resources for determining whether they will be affected and how to comply.

Our attorneys have spoken with journalists and drafted articles on the topic to provide insights to businesses throughout the region and across industry sectors. For your convenience, please find some of these articles below:

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Monday
Jul252016

Policy to “Conduct only . . . business while at work” Found to Violate NLRA

The Casino Pauma expects employees to work while at work—a concept that is not foreign to many of us. In fact, they put the expectation into writing and placed in their employee handbook a clause which provided: “Team members are to conduct only Casino Pauma business while at work. Team members may not conduct personal business or business for another employee during their scheduled working hours.” Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Giannasi, however, in a July 18, 2016 decision found that this provision violates the National Labor Relations Act because it was overbroad and unlawfully restricted employees rights to discuss unions and engage in other protected activity during non-work time. (Casino Pauma, No. 21-CA-161832 (July 18, 2016)).

Specifically, the ALJ found that the “only business while at work” clause, “can reasonably be read to restrict the communications of employees with each other about union or other Section 7 protected rights in non-work areas and on non-work time.” The ALJ found the “while at work” language to be too broad “because it is not properly restricted to ‘work time,’” as set forth in the second clause.

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Wednesday
Jul202016

The Power Struggle is Real: Local Minimum Wages Battle State Minimum Wages and How Dillon’s Rule Affects the Playing Field

Municipalities all across the country have dived into the employment arena in the past few years. In an April 2016 publication by the National Employment Law Project, it was reported that 51 municipalities across the country have either passed or currently have pending, proposals to raise the minimum wage. So often, clients ask, what is the DOL going to do about this if we don’t comply? The answer is simply—these ordinances are not state or federal laws and accordingly neither the state DOL nor the federal DOL have the authority to enforce the ordinances resulting in the municipalities need to create enforcement mechanisms. Thus, while we always recommend complying with all applicable statutes and ordinances, it is important to be mindful of the differences in remedies that could be available to employees if the employer fails to comply.

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Friday
Jul152016

“Capturing” the Affect of Pokemon Go in the Office

This is reality. This is not a test. There are Pokémon in your office. Well, maybe; it’s more like there are not real Pokémon chilling outside your door, but more that in an augmented reality there are graphical elements placed within your real world. The thing is, either way, it can result in real productivity drains—likely 151 productivity drains (for those still learning that’s how many Pokémon there apparently are to collect), but this blog post will only comment on a few. So let’s get to it; while we have all seen people walking around waiving their phones in the air over the course of the last two weeks, have we sat down and considered the implications of this in the work environment?

  1. Integration: There’s something fascinating about augmented reality, I mean, look at the image here, I pulled six attorneys away from their desks to “capture” Butterfree (yes there is an attorney hiding behind the Pokémon). Is this a way to bring people together in your organization? Maybe, it brought us together—but there are probably other options to consider. At the same time, I thought starting this post off on a positive note was nice.

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Wednesday
Jul132016

Scheme to Avoid Employer Liability Results in Consent Judgment

Using a staffing company to supply workers can seem to be a wonderful way to secure a qualified workforce while avoiding the challenges of hiring employees and the administrative demands associated with having so many people in your employ. Probably for these very reasons United Plastics contracted with ASI Staffing Group to provide workers at United Plastics’ facilities in Massachusetts and Mississippi. United Plastics’ learned the hard way, though, that it was still subject to the legal ramifications of being the employer of these agency employees. As part of a June 2016 consent judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, United Plastics and ASI Staffing Group agreed as joint employers to pay 566 ASI employees $1.4 million in back wages and liquidated damages for overtime pay.

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Friday
Jul082016

OSHA Ignites Firework of a Penalty Hike Prior to Independence Day

Late last week, while everyone was focused on the summer holiday, the Department of Labor announced that pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement Act, OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78 percent. This will increase the “serious”, “other-than-serious” and “posting requirements” penalty from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation, the failure to abate from $7,000 per day beyond abatement date to $12,471 per day beyond abatement date, and increase the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations from $70,000 to $124,709.

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