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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.  U.S. Treasury Regulations require us to notify you that any tax-related material in this blog (including links and attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties, and may not be referred to in any marketing or promotional materials.  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. 

Wednesday
May132015

April Showers Brought May Flowers and A Host of Employment Action in New England

New England administrative agencies and courts have sprung into spring with a litany of action last week that will affect New England employers. Here’s the run-down:

Connecticut: Last week the Connecticut Assembly passed a measure that would bar Connecticut employers from requiring employees or applicants to provide access to personal online accounts. The bill is similar to those passed across the country and would make Connecticut the 21st state to adopt such legislation. This bill, S.B. 426, specifically would prohibit employers from requesting or requiring that passwords, user names, or any other access be granted to employers or require the applicant/employee to access the account in front of the employer or invite or accept an invitation from the employer to join a group. The bill has been sent to Governor Malloy for consideration. 

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Wednesday
May132015

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Files a Class Action

Last week a class action was filed against restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s Inc. accusing the restaurant of decreasing employee hours to avoid providing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The action has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under Section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. While academically discussed by many after the passage of the Affordable Care Act as a potential claim against employers who were decreasing hours to avoid the mandate, the lawsuit is the first to test the theory.

Section 510 provides, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to . . . discriminate against a participant or beneficiary . . . for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the provisions of an employee benefit plan.” The lawsuit includes a proposed class of approximately 10,000 employees who were moved to part-time status in 2013, decreasing hours from 30 per week to approximately 17—thus eliminating their health insurance coverage and avoiding the ACA’s employer mandate. We will keep readers abreast as this case develops.

Thursday
May072015

Maine Labor Committee Rejects Right-to-Work Bill

Maine will not become the first state in the Northeast to pass a right-to-work law. Yesterday, law makers in Augusta on the Legislature’s Labor Committee voted 7-6 to recommend that the full Legislature kill the bill. Right-to-work laws guarantee that employees who work in a unionized environment not have to join the union or pay fees for the unions representation if they so choose. The text of the bill is available here.

Wednesday
May062015

Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys...Let'em be Doctors or Lawyers and Such

Why are we doctors or lawyers or other such professionals? We’re analytical and creative, persistent and interpersonal. Where did we get these skills? Look at what your mom has done to develop these skills from an early age through college. Most of us came of age when our mothers were encouraged to take an active role in our development and not just simply cook dinner and make sure we washed behind our ears. When you were just a toddler, she read books to you, played games with you and exposed you to your environment. My mom tells me that when she was younger, her preschool learning involved washing dishes and darning socks. Our moms, however, encouraged us to ask questions and they pressed us for answers. When interacting with relatives or family friends, my mom was taught to be still and to be quiet, while we were encouraged to listen and participate in conversations in a respectful manner. In short, she encouraged you to think.

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Wednesday
May062015

SHOW ME THE MONEY....At the Right Time and In the Appropriate Form, Please

Wage payment and the laws that regulate it are important to your business. Making sure you can cover payroll each month is extremely important to most small businesses, as is making sure that no liability is created in how those wages are paid. The last few weeks have brought this concept center-stage in Massachusetts.

Last month a Massachusetts court held that an employer violated Massachusett’s wage payment statute when it paid a terminated employee by electronic fund transfer when the unpaid wages were not accessible by the employee on the day of termination. The statute at issue provides: “any employee discharged from . . . employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.” In Clermont v. Monster Worldwide, Inc., the company terminated the employee and that same date, through its bank, issued an electronic transfer of funds to the Plaintiff’s bank account in the amount of $26,401.50. The funds appeared in the Plaintiff’s account the next day. The court found that this was a violation of the statute as a result of this delay. It is unclear of what the penalty will, however, be as further factual development needed to occur for the court to determine whether any damages resulted from the violation.

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Wednesday
May062015

Perceived Disability

Last December, the Connecticut Supreme Court held in Desrosiers v. Diageo North America, Inc., 314 Conn.  773 (2014), that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-51 et seq., prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals whom they perceive to be physically disabled regardless of whether the individual has an actual physical disability as defined under the Act. Despite the Court’s apparent expansion of the state’s anti-discrimination laws, the Appellate Court’s recent decision in Eaddy v. City of Bridgeport, 156 Conn. App. 597 (2015), suggests that it may not be easy for plaintiffs to succeed on “perceived” disability claims. 

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