Massachusetts Labor & Employment Law

Foley Hoag’s Labor & Employment Law practice offers decades of experience helping companies manage their workplace legal issues. We understand that today’s employers must grapple with an ever-expanding array of federal and state laws and regulations governing the employment relationship. Our attorneys bring deep knowledge of labor and employment law and a practical and creative problem-solving approach to every matter. We pride ourselves on our ability to respond quickly to changing business conditions with effective, strategic advice, while always keeping our client’s business goals in mind.

On September 9, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) clarified its standard for reviewing the appropriateness of small bargaining units within larger workforces, sometimes referred to as “micro units.” The ruling gives employers guidance on how the NLRB will apply the so-called “community of interest” standard in such cases and gives the NLRB significant leeway to reject such units. The NLRB’s decision concerned a bargaining unit at a Boeing Co. plant in South Carolina.…
As we reported in previous alerts (April 26, 2019 and May 9, 2019), all employers with 100 or more employees must submit employee pay data for 2017 and 2018 to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on an updated Employer Information Report Form (EEO-1) by September 30, 2019. However, this may end up being a one-time requirement. On September 12, 2019, the EEOC announced that it will not be requiring EEO-1 filers…
New Ruling Makes It Easier for Employers to Introduce Workplace Changes During Term of Collective Bargaining Agreement   On September 10, 2019, in MV Transportation, Inc., Case No. 28-CA-173726, the National Labor Relations Board adopted a new “unilateral change” rule. The new rule permits employers to make unilateral changes in the workplace during the term of a collective bargaining agreement, without first bargaining with the union representing its employees, where the change “falls within the compass…
Department Clarifies that Law Will Not Apply to Properly Classified Independent Contractors On September 5, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave issued new guidance on when workers who receive 1099-MISC forms will be included in a business’s workforce count under the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA). Prior guidance suggested that all individual 1099-MISC workers in Massachusetts that provided service to a company would be counted. However, the new guidance…
Last week, in Velox Express, Inc., the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) answered what had been a long-standing open question under federal labor law, ruling that the misclassification of employees as independent contractors is not a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As such, the decision to classify a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee will not, by itself, subject an employer to liability under the NLRA. The Board’s decision stemmed…
The past few days saw two major updates to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) of which employers should be aware: a three-month extension of various deadlines for employer compliance and the issuance of final regulations under the Act Department of Family and Medical Leave (the “Department”). As we reported last week, the Governor and Legislature agreed to extend the start date for contributions from July 1, 2019 until October 1,…
On June 13, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new regulation that is intended to increase the use of tax-favored health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) as a means of expanding access to health insurance in the individual insurance market. One likely effect of the new regulation, which will take effect on January 1, 2020, is to make it more likely that small employers…
On June 11, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced that they agreed to delay the required contributions to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program by three months. This agreement will not be official until the Legislature passes and the Governor signs an emergency bill putting it on the books. If passed, the bill will extend the date when employers need to begin collecting…
On June 3, 2019, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Fort Bend County, Texas vs. Davis that Title VII cases can proceed in federal court even if employees fail to first bring their claims before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or an equivalent state agency (e.g., Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination). The Court’s ruling, however, made clear that employers can continue to protect themselves against new claims, so long as they raise the failure-to-exhaust…
Massachusetts law requires that non-exempt employees be paid at least 1.5 times their hourly rate for hours worked beyond the first 40 hours per week, and that certain employees be paid at least 1.5 times their hourly rate for all hours worked on Sundays. However, there has been confusion as to how these laws apply to employees who are paid exclusively by commissions. Late last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruled in Sullivan v.…