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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. 

Friday
Apr292016

White Collar Salary Increase Update #1

BNA Bloomberg is currently reporting that yesterday word was leaked from a Washington staffer that the DOL white collar salary threshold will be in the $47,000 per year range—as opposed to the $50,440, which has been proposed. The $47,000 range is still almost double the current $23,660 level. Reports have been made by policy advisors that this decrease in the proposed salary cap will decrease the number of individual employees affected from 13.5 million to 12.5 million people.

For more on how to respond to the likely salary increase, check out our previous post here. As we have noted, now is the time to do a full wage and hour audit to determine the effects this change will have on your pay practices. Contact a member of Verrill Dana’s Labor & Employment Practice Group to discuss more.

Tuesday
Apr262016

Belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster Does Not Confer Religious Protections Under the Law

On Monday, Stephen comes into work dressed like a pirate. As his employer, you think this is strange, and maybe pushing the limits of the dress code, but there are other more important things on your plate, so you decide to deal with it later. On Tuesday, Stephen is again dressed like a pirate, and this time he is also wearing a colander on his head. Before you have a chance to remind Stephen that the dress code prohibits hats (to the extent a colander could be considered a hat), Stephen approaches you and tells you that he will no longer be working on Fridays because he is a Pastafarian, a member of the religion FSMism (Flying Spaghetti Monster-ism), and under FSMism every Friday is a religious holiday. After a quick Google search, you also learn that wearing pirate garb and a colander are practices of FSMism. Do you have to tolerate Stephen’s new wardrobe and grant his request for Fridays off as a religious accommodations?

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Monday
Apr252016

Mark Twain, Keith Richards & The Manager Rule

Are reports of the death of the manager’s rule greatly exaggerated?

Gentle reader, as you know, the manager rule is a common defense to whistleblower or retaliation claims and holds that a management employee who disagrees with or opposes their employer’s actions in the course of their normal job performance, does not engage in protected activity. Instead, it is only when an individual crosses the line from being an employee performing their job, to one essentially lodging a “personal” complaint, that they engage in protected activity.

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Wednesday
Apr202016

Dude, I Think He’s High…Can I Fire Him?

Oftentimes clients ask, “When we think an employee is high, can we fire him?” My answer is consistently the same, “That depends.” It depends on a whole host of factors, what state do you live in, what industry do you work in, why do you think he’s high, but most importantly, what is your risk tolerance?

In at-will states (of which many are), an employer can terminate an employee for any reason as long as it is not in violation of a law. The problem is, the list of laws which protect employees continues to become longer and longer. Employee protections related to the use of controlled substances is no exception. We see the ADA, state marijuana laws, OSHA, state drug testing laws, and other fair employment practices laws consistently affecting the marijuana in the workplace analysis.

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Wednesday
Apr202016

Hospital Shows Undue Hardship in Permitting Employee who Refused Influenza Vaccination to Maintain Patient-Care Position

Earlier this month, a District of Massachusetts court issued an opinion which held in part that that a hospital’s refusal to permit an employee to maintain a patient-care position after refusing an influenza vaccination on account of religious beliefs was proper. The plaintiff in the matter was an administrative associate in the emergency department and was typically one of the first people to interact with patients and family members handling intake, registration, and affixing patient identification bracelets—thus requiring her to touch and be in close proximity to patients. The hospital notified employees that employees working in patient-care areas needed to be vaccinated for influenza. The plaintiff refused the vaccine, alleging that her “religion had a moratorium on all vaccinations.”

While the hospital did question whether the plaintiff had a sincerely held religious belief, the court did not focus on this argument and instead found that the hospital had attempted to reasonably accommodate the plaintiff by providing her with the opportunity to move to a non-patient-care position and that allowing her to maintain her position without the influenza vaccination would have been an undue hardship.

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Tuesday
Apr192016

Don't Try This at Home...Well Soon You Can: Arizona's Workplace Pot-Luck Law (a.k.a. A Blog Post on Legalizing Potlucks...Not Pot)

So often we post about the affects of the legalization of marijuana (a.k.a. “pot”) in the workplace, but today’s post is a bit different; today we focus on the rules and regulations surrounding potlucks in the workplace, or at least potlucks in Arizona.

Arizona Revised Statute § 36-136 provides guidelines for health and sanitation throughout the state. Within section 36-136H(4) the state grants the authority to proscribe rules and regulations concerning the inspection and licensing of food and food-products. The statute is applicable to a wide-range of commercial and non-commercial ventures within the state, but specifically excludes food or drink that is “[s]erved at a noncommercial social even that takes place at a workplace, such as a potluck,” or “[p]repared or served at an employee-conducted function that lasts less than four hours and is not regularly scheduled, such as an employee recognition, an employee fund-raising or an employee social event.” The plain meaning of this statute would accordingly have me putting my brakes on when it is announced that our Arizona-retreat will be potluck in nature and last from noon to five; nope, hold your horses there, we have a 3 hour and fifty-nine minute cap on work pot-lucks that occur outside the office.

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