Massachusetts News & Analysis

  • Commission-only salespeople entitled to overtime in Massachusetts

    Massachusetts employers with nonexempt employees who are paid entirely in commissions or receive advances toward their commissions, called draws, must be careful about paying overtime, according to a new case. In a recent decision, the highest state court in Massachusetts—the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC)—determined that nonexempt 100% commission employees are entitled to additional compensation when they work more than 40 hours in a given workweek and to Sunday pay even if their total compensation for the workweek equals or exceeds minimum wage for the first 40 hours and at least 1 times the minimum wage for the hours over 40. So what can Massachusetts employers learn from the case?

  • DOL updates opinion on independent contractors for the gig economy

    Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a decidedly industry-friendly approach to the independent contractor analysis. If there was any doubt before, that was made clear by its recent issuance of a whopping 10-page opinion letter examining the nature of the relationship between a virtual marketplace company (think Uber) and the "gig" workers they employ (e.g., Uber drivers).

  • Massachusetts: the best state for working mothers!

    Back in August 2015, we reported that WalletHub analyzed state dynamics across key metrics to determine the best states for working mothers and ranked Massachusetts fifth on the list (see "Massachusetts: a great state for working mothers!" of our August 2015 issue). WalletHub took a look at the best and worst states for working mothers again in 2019 and determined that Massachusetts is the best state in which to be a working mother. Read on to learn why.

  • What does it mean to be a farmer?

    Employers small and large are familiar with the concept of overtime pay. If a nonexempt employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek, his employer needs to pay an overtime premium for the hours he worked in excess of 40. Most employers are equally familiar with the concept of exemptions from overtime pay: Employees who are properly classified as exempt generally are not owed overtime pay. However, what escapes many employers is the breadth of overtime-exempt classifications.

  • Supreme Court ruling raises stakes in Title VII claims

    If an employee files a timely Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, can she later raise new discrimination allegations after the filing deadline has passed? That's the issue addressed in a new decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Spoiler alert: The answer is no, unless the employer—or more accurately, its attorney—doesn't notice. To understand the Court's ruling, it's helpful to understand the EEOC's role in discrimination claims.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB reveals rulemaking plans. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in May announced its rulemaking priorities, which include proceeding with its rulemaking on a standard for joint employment. The Board's agenda also includes plans for rulemaking in the following areas: representation-case procedures; standards for blocking charges, voluntary recognition, and the formation of bargaining relationships in the construction industry; the standard for determining whether students who perform services at private colleges or universities in connection with their studies should be considered employees; and standards for access to an employer's private property.

  • Workplace Trends

    Think you've made a hire? Maybe not. A survey from staffing firm Robert Half shows that more than a quarter of workers (28%) have backed out of a job offer after accepting the position. Why would a jobseeker do that? The survey says 44% of those changing their minds backed out after receiving a better offer from another company. For 27%, a counteroffer from their current employer led to the change of heart. In 19% of the cases, the jobseeker reported hearing bad things about the company after receiving the offer. The cities where jobseekers are more likely to renege are San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Austin, and Miami.

  • First PFML deadlines are approaching--are you ready?

    For the past year, we've been helping Massachusetts employers prepare for the upcoming "Grand Bargain" legislation, which, among other things, mandates paid family and medical leave (PFML) for employees. Although employees will not be entitled to receive PFML benefits until January 1, 2021, covered employers must start making wage deductions on July 1, 2019, to fund contributions to the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML), which will be due with your October 2019 quarterly tax payments. You must also meet certain notice requirements under the PFML law and, if you haven't already, consider whether you want to opt out and institute a private plan. The DFML recently announced several important changes to upcoming deadlines and provided additional information about the PFML law, which goes into effect July 1.

  • Supreme Court will decide whether LGBT discrimination is unlawful

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the long-unresolved question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue has been percolating in the lower courts for quite a while. As it frequently does, the Court declined to consider the question until there was a conflict between several appellate courts. Let's take a look at the history of the Court's decisions, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and what we can expect next.

  • Attendance may not be an essential job function

    Most of you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Massachusetts law require you to engage in an interactive dialogue to identify potential reasonable accommodations for an employee's disability and that you have to provide a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would pose an undue hardship for your business. It has long been acknowledged under the ADA and state law and by the courts that an employer isn't required to eliminate an essential function of an employee's job as an accommodation. One question employers often ask is whether full-time work is an essential function of the job. A federal court in Massachusetts recently determined that it wasn't in one case.