Articles Posted in Employment Law

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Tom Delmar 508.822.2000

Tom Delmar

Most employers maintain a company handbook, employee manual, or something similar. This handbook will be provided to employees when they start their new job and often outlines the rules of the job-place, leave and vacation policies, and the employer’s expectations. Sometimes, these handbooks will outline a progressive discipline procedure, and rules regarding how an employee should resign or how the company may terminate an employee’s job.

Employers oftentimes break their own handbook rules. They may not provide a written reason for termination, or not follow their own progressive discipline policy. This can be quite frustrating for employees, and unfair, as employees rely on the handbook to follow procedure and expect the employer to similarly follow the handbook rules.

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The Domestic Violence Leave Law provides job protected leave for victims of domestic violence.

This law went in to effect in 2014 and requires covered employers to provide up to 15 days of job-protected leave in a 12 month period to an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or who has a family member who is a victim of domestic violence. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees. There is no required minimum hours worked or length of employment prior to becoming eligible for this type of leave.

The employee must use the leave to address issues relating to the abusive or domestic behavior, such as seeking medical treatment or counseling, obtaining victim services or legal assistance, securing housing, making a court appearance, obtaining a protective order, meeting with law enforcement officials, or attending child custody proceedings.

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Perhaps you voted yes on Question 4 on the state ballot on November 4, 2014 when voters passed a new sick leave law, and perhaps you’re wondering: “What now?”

Starting on July 1, 2015, employees who work at an employer that has 11 or more employees will have 40 hours of unpaid sick time each calendar year. Employees will be able to use sick time and miss work for reasons such as (1) caring for their child, spouse, or parent who has a physical or mental illness, (2) to handle their own illness, (3) to attend a routine medical appointment for themselves or a family member, or (4) to deal with the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.

Employees do not receive 40 hours of sick time at the start of each calendar year. Instead, most employees will earn and accrue one hour of sick time for each 30 hours working. If an employer already provides paid sick time to its employees, the new law does not require an employer to provide additional time off so long as the existing policy allows employees to take time off for the same reasons outlined in the new law. When an employee leaves his or her job voluntarily or is fired, unlike accrued vacation time, an employer is not required to compensate an employee for accrued but unused sick leave. Importantly, the new law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who uses sick time under the new law or supports a co-worker for doing so. That means an employer cannot fire or demote an employee for using sick time under the new law.

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There are many questions to be asked when your employment ends, whether that be through a termination, lay-off, or your resignation. One such question is when will you receive your final paycheck, and how much will you be compensated for in that check? Below I briefly outline what you are entitled to, and when you should receive it, pursuant to Massachusetts wage laws.

First off, unless you have a golden-parachute clause in your employment contract, an employer is not required to provide you a severance payment. Even if other employees have received severance or you had worked for the company for a decade, Massachusetts law does not require a company make a severance payment.

The next question is “when will my former employer pay me my last paycheck.” Massachusetts law is clear; if you were terminated or laid-off, you are owed your last paycheck on the same day, if you quit, you are owed your final paycheck by the next regularly scheduled payday. To reiterate, if you are not paid your last paycheck on the day of your termination, your employer has violated Massachusetts wage laws. If your employer is late in providing you your final paycheck, or it is not for your full wages, you should contact an employment attorney at Keches Law Group.

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by Kevin P. DeMello, esq.

When someone has a potentially disabling workplace injury, there’s a difficult labyrinth of legal issues to navigate. Most people soon learn that following a workplace injury, there is typically workers compensation coverage available to pay for medical bills and some percentage of lost wages. However, right from the start, things get complicated. How much are you entitled to? How do the medical bills get processed, and what about co-payments and medications? The answers to these questions are often unique to your particular situation.

If your injury is permanently disabling, meaning that you are disabled from any type of gainful employment due to your injuries, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. Often times people do not realize that SSDI is available until their doctor suggests it. However, if you are receiving workers compensation benefits, any SSDI benefits you are entitled to are typically offset by the amount of your workers compensation benefits. There are strategies that a good workers compensation attorney can use to reduce this offset and maximize your potential benefits, but these strategies vary from case to case.

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By Kevin DeMello, Esq.

The use of temp agencies and employment leasing companies is becoming more and more common in today’s workforce. Sometimes these situations arise when an employer needs short-term labor on a temporary basis, but more and more companies are leasing workers on a more or less permanent basis. Generally, Massachusetts law requires that workers compensation coverage be available for injured workers, and temp or leased employment situations are no exception. Sometimes that coverage is purchased by the temp or leasing agency, and sometimes by the employer. In either case, workers compensation coverage is typically available for an injured worker. However, if the employer caused the worker’s injury, it is sometimes possible to pursue a third party claim against the employer to provide additional benefits to the injured worker.

Unfortunately, determining whether it is possible to pursue a third party case for a temp or leased worker is not always easy. Massachusetts courts have held that if the employer, rather than the temp or leasing company, provides the workers compensation coverage, immunity applies to the employer. In that case, even if the employer caused the worker’s injuries, the worker is not able to sue the employer. There are also times when the worker is barred from suing the employer even when the temp or leasing agency provides the coverage.

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