Massachusetts News & Analysis

  • Employment laws fail to keep up with legalization of marijuana and CBD

    When I stand in the checkout line at our local Whole Foods, CBD products are within easy reach. If I buy the CBD ointment, could I run into any problems at work?

  • Moving on: adopting a proactive employee mobility strategy

    These days, almost all employers ― and, in particular, employers in New Hampshire ― are engaged in something of a multidimensional war. There's as intense a competition being waged for talented employees, skilled workers, and seasoned executives as at any time in our history. At the same time, two issues animate and confuse the competition for talent.

  • IRS announces 2020 benefits limits

    The IRS has announced cost-of-living adjustments for various limits on retirement plans and other benefits limits for 2020. The key limits listed below are found in IRS Notice 2019-19 and Revenue Procedures 2019-25 and 2019-44:

  • The thin hair line: SJC rules hair follicle drug tests are unreliable

    In a recent case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the highest state court in Massachusetts, determined that hair follicle drug tests do not provide sufficiently reliable evidence that an individual has ingested illegal drugs. The case, which arose from a drug test conducted on a potential recruit by the Boston Police Department (BPD), highlights the unreliability and the potential pitfalls of this drug-testing method.

  • CT Appellate Court affirms dismissal of disgruntled former employee's creative claims

    We've written a number of times about disgruntled former employees suing after employers are forced to fire them. Lawsuits by former employees are invariably time-consuming, distracting, and frustrating. And as one employer recently learned in a unique case, that's under the best of circumstances. Sometimes, disgruntled employees throw everything into their lawsuit but the kitchen sink. They don't just sue for discrimination, for example; they assert every possible claim and drag the case out for years.

  • 'It's expensive to be wrong': Boston pays big for supervisor's actions

    The city of Boston is no stranger to writing big checks. It has lots of expenses. It pays for all sorts of daily necessities. But when mistakes happen, it can be forced to pay extra. Lost a few too many orange cones this year? OK, that's manageable. Found out one of your employees was discriminating against another employee for years based on race, and now you've been ordered to pay a judgment of more than $10 million dollars . . . wait, WHAT?! So is this article a cautionary tale to warn employers about how bad behavior by staff can cost them millions of dollars? Absolutely.

  • Handling office romance in #MeToo era: Know your options

    As Valentine's Day nears, love is in the air ― and oftentimes in the workplace. Although workplace romance is common, it can make HR professionals fret about all the what-ifs. What if a relationship is between a supervisor and a direct report? What if rumors of favoritism poison the workplace environment? What if one or both participants is married to someone else? What if a couple's public displays of affection make coworkers uncomfortable? What if a relationship goes sour and the breakup affects morale? And perhaps the most important question to consider: What if a relationship is one-sided and is more accurately described as sexual harassment instead of consensual?

  • Something lacking in your workplace? Boosting soft skills can help

    Anyone involved in recruiting and hiring knows the importance of assessing a candidate's skills. Does the candidate have the right training, experience, and credentials to do the job? But anyone in charge of hiring (or maybe even rehabilitating already-employed workers who aren't quite measuring up) knows that merely evaluating a candidate's hard skills isn't enough. More and more, employers are finding "soft skills" are essential in the workplace.

  • Q - A: Firing without conviction: the uncertainty of handling an employee arrest

    Q One of our employees has been arrested but not convicted. It doesn't appear he's going to be released in the near future. Is it better to put him in an unpaid "leave" status or fire him?

  • Q - A: Firing without conviction: the uncertainty of handling an employee arrest

    Q As an HR pro, I like to set goals for myself. If you could recommend one such "New Year's resolution" for 2020, what would it be?