Maine News & Analysis

  • Failure to extend pot moratorium leaves employers in the lurch

    During its 2018 session, the Maine Legislature has failed to extend the moratorium on key provisions of the Marijuana Legalization Act (MLA), the recreational marijuana legalization law that was passed by referendum back in November 2016. The result is that on February 1, 2018, specific provisions relating to employment went into effect. While I anticipate that the legislature may address these issues, right now Maine employers need to be aware of these provisions and ensure that they don't expose themselves to legal liability when it comes to addressing workplace marijuana issues.

  • Maine imposes new harassment training requirements

    With the #MeToo movement seemingly everywhere in the news, it's important for all employers to review their sexual harassment training practices. Maine recently amended its sexual harassment training law to impose additional requirements on employers in the state.

  • Opioids in your workplace? Tips for prevention and response

    These days, it seems impossible to tune into the news without hearing about the opioid crisis. In addition to tragic reports of overdose deaths and heartbreaking addiction stories, most of the news focuses on the rapid rise of opioid use over the past 10 to 15 years and what—if anything—can be done to turn the tide.

  • WHD reinstates Bush-era opinion letters

    The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently reissued 17 opinion letters that had been withdrawn by the Obama administration for "further review" but never ruled upon. The letters had been issued mere days before former President George W. Bush left office in January 2009.

  • Agency Action

    H-2B cap reached for first half of 2018. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 21, 2017, that it had reached the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year 2018. December 15, 2017, was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1. USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. USCIS also was accepting cap-subject petitions for the second half of fiscal year 2018 for employment start dates on or after April 1. U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 through March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 through September 30).

  • Can an employee work a second job while on FMLA leave?

    Q We have an employee who is on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for his daughter. He was recently seen refereeing a school basketball game (his second job). Do we have grounds to request that he return to work?

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey shows employers offering more health, wellness programs. Two-thirds of HR managers responding to a survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam reported their organizations have expanded health and wellness offerings in the past five years. The survey, reported in January 2018, also found that 89% of workers said their company is supportive of their wellness goals. The OfficeTeam results contrast with a survey from Willis Towers Watson reported in December that found a disconnect between employers and employees on the effectiveness of programs. Fifty-six percent of employers in that survey said they believe their current health and well-being programs encourage employees to live a healthier lifestyle, but just 32% of employees agreed.

  • Union Activity

    Teamsters praise lawsuit against Los Angeles trucking companies. The Teamsters Union in January 2018 praised the Los Angeles city attorney for filing lawsuits against three port trucking companies, all owned by NFI Industries. The union said the suits allege that the companies intentionally misclassified hundreds of truckers as independent contractors, rather than employees, to avoid providing benefits and paying applicable taxes. A statement from the union said the Teamsters applaud Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer for taking aggressive action against these market-leading companiesK&R Transportation, CMI, and California Cartage Express. Fred Potter, director of the Teamsters Port Division and international vice president said, We hope this will send a strong message that not only these companies, but [also] the entire port trucking industry, must stop breaking labor laws.

  • Federal court rejects interns' FLSA claim against Hearst

    On January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it was rescinding a guidance document on paying interns it issued in 2010. The former guidance suggested that employers need to apply a six-factor test to determine whether an intern must be paid. However, the test has been rejected by several appellate courts throughout the country, causing the DOL to rethink its approach. The agency is now advocating for the "primary beneficiary test" that several courts have used. A recent high-profile case illustrates how the primary beneficiary test applies to internships.

  • Is it time for your employee handbook checkup?

    At too many organizations, the employee handbook has been sitting on a shelf collecting dust for ages, or the electronic version is saved in the files of an HR employee who left the company years ago. If you haven't reviewed your handbook recently—or if you are a new business that hasn't yet adopted a handbook—this is a good time to work with an employment attorney to refresh your policies. Read on to learn more about some common handbook questions I've recently been fielding from Maine employers.