Massachusetts News & Analysis

  • If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I Zoom interview?

    With many hiring managers working from home, COVID-19 has had a big impact on business recruiting. Before you forge ahead, however, and begin conducting remote job interviews over Zoom or one of the other cloud platforms, you must be careful to avoid resurrecting a potential discrimination pitfall from the 1970s.

  • DOL eases path to use independent contractors, but MA employers should beware

    Over the last decade, there have been countless cases in Massachusetts addressing individuals classified (or misclassified, as is often the argument) as independent contractors. In Massachusetts, misclassification of persons as independent contractors rather than employees often leads to class action wage and hour lawsuits. So, you may have seen that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a new proposed independent contractor rule and be wondering what it means for your Massachusetts business. Read on to learn more.

  • COVID-19 and workers' comp: New VT law presumes compensability

    Vermont Governor Phil Scott recently signed into law a bill that recognizes COVID-19 as a workplace injury and creates a rebuttable presumption to that effect, with certain conditions. Employers need to be aware of the change in the law, particularly as we head into the fall and winter seasons and a potential coronavirus surge risk.

  • Trust, but verify: Union's legislative lobbying not chargeable to nonmembers

    n the 1988 case Communications Workers of Am. v. Beck, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that employees who choose not to be union members have the right to refuse to pay fees for activities other than those "necessary to the union's performance of the duties of an exclusive representative of the employees in dealing with the employer on labor-management issues." Thirty-two years later, the case's interpretation is still a contested issue. The concept was recently addressed by the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) in the legislative lobbying context.

  • Now what?! COVID-19 collides with flu season

    While many workplaces are settling into a COVID-19 groove of social distancing, face masks, and hand sanitizer, we find ourselves on the cusp of flu season in the United States. Employers should start preparing now for what could be a difficult workplace winter.

  • Trump's order significantly affects fed contractors' workplace diversity training

    On September 22, President Donald Trump issued an unprecedented "Executive Order (EO) on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping" aimed at the federal workforce and federal contractors. The order purports "to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating" through a variety of measures, including significantly limiting the diversity training federal contractors may offer, requiring notification of applicable unions of their commitments under the EO and posting related notices in the workplace, and adding provisions to address the prohibited "race and sex stereotyping" in their subcontracts and purchase orders.

  • To wear, or not to wear: managers' compliance with face-covering mandates

    Most managers are committed to the success of their organizations, employees, customers, and communities. They work hard to provide safe and healthful workplaces. They give their best efforts to manage in good-faith compliance with the myriad of federal, state, and local laws applicable to their organizations. They are generally mission critical to protecting their organizations against liability exposure. Even so, some organizations have faced significant manager resistance to the use of COVID-19-related face-coverings in the workplace. Why is that, and what can be done about it?

  • Year's end means key COVID-19 relief measures expiring

    Employers and their employees have had to navigate a number of COVID-19-related relief measures for most of 2020 ― paid sick and family leave time, enhanced unemployment benefits, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan requirements, and optional temporary deferrals of certain taxes among them. What next year will bring is up in the air, but some measures are ending on December 31. Here's a look at some of the more notable provisions important to employers.

  • Combating isolation just one more priority for employers during COVID era

    Back in March, when a rapidly proliferating pandemic forced workers across the country out of their offices and into their homes, most thought the arrangement would be short-lived ― a few weeks, maybe a month or so. As the year winds down, with many people still working from home ― and coping with the kind of isolation they never expected ― various surveys have shown that most workers miss the office. They may like the flexibility of working from home and hope to continue the arrangement in a limited way postpandemic, but they want the kind of interaction with colleagues they get in the office. This many months into the pandemic, workers are seeing that the isolation of working alone in their homes is taking a toll.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Employers urged to redesign recruiting strategies. Research from workforce advisory and research firm Gartner Inc. urges employers to rethink how they acquire talent. In a September report, Gartner said just 16% of new hires possess the needed skills for both their current role and the future. Therefore, organizations need to shift their focus from replacing the workforce to shaping it through strategies based on the realities of the new recruiting landscape. Shaping the workforce means acquiring new skillsets from a diverse skills market that influences an organizations employment value propositions. Historically, recruiting has focused on acquiring quality talent with critical skills to meet an organizations short- and long-term objectives, but the old methods are unable to compete with the large-scale shifts to the workplace. Therefore, Gartner says recruiting functions need to make three shifts: (1) define talent needs by prioritizing skills instead of hiring profiles, (2) uncover the total skills market instead of targeting known talent pools, and (3) c