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Employment Law Archives

Disability Discrimination Claims Under Federal and Massachusetts Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability. A qualified individual is a person who can perform the essential functions of his or her job, with or without reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations can include modified schedules, modified or new equipment, or job restructuring. There are exceptions for situations in which the reasonable accommodation would cause an undue hardship to the employer. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.

District of Massachusetts Transfers Employees' Case to District of Maryland Despite Wage Act Claims

Both state and federal wage and hour laws protect employees' rights to receive payment of the wages due to them in a timely manner. In some cases, the court must determine which laws, including the laws of which states, apply to a plaintiff's claims. In Ossenbruggen v. Cowan Systems, LLC, the District Court of Massachusetts had to consider whether Maryland would apply its own wage laws or Massachusetts' Wage Act in determining if it was appropriate to transfer the case in accordance with a forum selection clause in the contracts between the parties.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Upholds FMLA Retaliation Verdict

Eligible employees may take unpaid leave for up to twelve weeks during a twelve-month period for "a serious health condition" that prevents the employee from performing her job functions, pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). 29 U.S.C. § 2612. The employee generally must be returned to the same or an equivalent position. 29 U.S.C. § 2614. The law also protects the employee from retaliation or discrimination.

Massachusetts Employee Prevails in Retroactive For-Cause Termination Case

19-08-6-300x225.jpgThe termination of an employee is always complicated, but it is even more complex when the employee has a high level position and an employment contract. When the employment agreement sets out the circumstances under which the employment may be terminated, a failure to follow it can have expensive consequences for the business. Employment agreements commonly require an employer to pay severance for termination without cause, so it is very important for the employer to follow all of the contract's requirements when terminating for cause.

Massachusetts Employment Retaliation Claims Can Mean Treble Damages

Employee claims, whether based on allegations of wage and hour laws or discrimination, can sour a workplace. Nevertheless, retaliation against an employee who has made a complaint is not the answer. State and federal laws can make terminating an employee or imposing other adverse consequences because of a complaint or claim for an employment law violation very costly. In fact, even if the employer articulates a legitimate reason for the termination, a retaliation claim may still succeed if the fact-finder determines it was a pretext. file000229353560-225x300.jpg

Damages for Retaliation under the Massachusetts Wage Act

The Massachusetts Wage Act protects employees' right to receive timely payment of their wages. The law requires that employers generally must pay employees weekly or bi-weekly wages within six or seven days of the end of the pay period, depending upon the number clock-1241088-640x480-300x225.jpgof days in the week the employee worked. G. L. c. 149, § 148. Employers are prohibited from penalizing employees who assert their rights under the wage and hour provisions of the Wage Act. G. L. c. 149, § 148A. An employee who suffers a violation of § 148 or § 148A may file an action for an injunction, damages incurred, lost wages, and other benefits after filing a complaint with the attorney general and waiting 90 days or obtaining the attorney general's permission to file sooner. G. L. c. 149, § 150.

Massachusetts Telecommuters and Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Employers

Many employees now telecommute or work from home for businesses that may be down the street or across the country. When disputes arise in employment arrangements in which the company and its employee are in different states, the question of jurisdiction arises. 

Age Discrimination under Massachusetts and Federal Law

Employees are protected from age discrimination by both Massachusetts law and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The First Circuit recently decided a case involving both in Santangelo v. New York Life Insurance Company. The plaintiff had been anagent with a life insurance company for over forty years before he was terminated in 2009. According to the court's opinion, he began having problems with his job in 2006 after a file audit found two incomplete forms that had been signed by his clients in violation of company policy. The company formally reprimanded him by letter because of the violation. Another audit the following year identified the same issue and resulted in a severe reprimand letter and "Enhanced Supervision." Another audit in 2008, revealed more incomplete signed forms. A Standards Consultant then recommended termination of the plaintiff's contract.

Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute Doesn't Apply to Real Estate Salespersons

It is often financially advantageous for a company to classify individuals as independent contractors rather than employees, but the individuals lose the benefits and protections afforded to employees. Massachusetts law prohibits the misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

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