In one of his last acts before leaving office, Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a new Parental Leave Act amending the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act ("MMLA") on January 7. The MMLA currently requires employers with six or more employees to provide female employees who have been employed for at least three months as a full-time employee with eight weeks of leave "for the purpose of giving birth or adopting a child." The new Parental Leave Act expands the MMLA to provide eight weeks of leave to both male and female employees who have been employed for at least three months. The new law goes into effect April 7.
As before, the new Parental Leave Act requires employers to restore employees taking leave to the same or similar position upon their return to work. However, unlike the old law, leave beyond eight weeks may now also be protected. An employer who agrees to provide an employee with more than eight weeks' leave must reinstate the employee at the end of the extended leave, unless the employer clearly informs the employee in writing prior to the start of the leave and prior to any subsequent extension of the leave that taking longer than eight weeks will result in denial of reinstatement or loss of other rights and benefits. This provision effectively reverses the Supreme Judicial Court's 2010 decision in Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus, which held that the MMLA protected only the first eight weeks of an employee's 10-week, employer-approved leave.
In addition, the Parental Leave Act reiterates that leave may be paid or unpaid at the discretion of the employer. Accordingly, employers should specify in their written policies whether such leave (or any part thereof) will be paid or unpaid. The law also notes that two parents working for the same employer are entitled only to eight weeks of leave in the aggregate for the birth or adoption of the same child.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has previously issued guidelines on the MMLA, and we anticipate that it will eventually issue new guidance related to the expanded rights created by the Parental Leave Act. In the meantime, employers should review and revise their existing polices as necessary to comply with the requirements of this new law.
On October 10, James Bowers will share his personal perspectives on the History of Slavery and Race in South Carolina at UConn School of Law.
Day Pitney Alert
Rachel Gonzalez, Mary Rogers and Patrick McCarthy wrote an article "NLRB Eases Organizing of Temporary Workers" for CBIA’s H&R Safety Newsletter on the impact of the recent decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Dan Schwartz and James Leva wrote an article, "Where New Conn. Ban-The-Box Law May Be Headed," for Law360. The article outlines what employers need to know about Connecticut's recently enacted "ban-the-box" law, titled "An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment."
Day Pitney Alert
Michael Furey was quoted in an article, "NJ Panel Grills Hospitals Over Discovery In Horizon Row," in Law360. Day Pitney is representing five New Jersey hospitals in a lawsuit against Horizon Healthcare, relating to its new, multi-tiered health plan called OMNIA. Furey advocated on behalf of the five hospitals on Wednesday before a New Jersey appeals court that Horizon should turn over a consultant's report and certain agreements relating to how Horizon categorized hospitals under its controversial OMNIA Alliance program and the impact of OMNIA on the hospitals. These Tier 2 hospitals are alleging various claims, including breach of contract and citing concerns that being ranked in the lower tier of the program will cost them business. Horizon contends the sought-after materials, including a financial analysis, strategic alliance agreements and rate agreements between the insurer and OMNIA network hospitals, contain trade secret and confidential information. "If we're going to prove our hospitals should be Tier 1 alliance members, we need the documents and the information," Furey said.
Hartford, Conn., May 26, 2016 - Day Pitney LLP is pleased to announce that Employment and Labor attorney Albert Zakarian has been chosen as a Lifetime Achievement winner of The Connecticut Law Tribune’s second annual Professional Excellence Awards 2016. The Professional Excellence Awards 2016 recognize 28 lawyers, who were chosen from over 60 nominees, as either Lawyer of the Year or Lifetime Achievement recipients, according to The Connecticut Law Tribune. The Lifetime Achievement Awards honor "attorneys who have excelled over a career."
John McLafferty was quoted in an article, "Final overtime regulations less drastic than feared," in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. In the article, McLafferty discusses how the Department of Labor’s final revised federal overtime regulation will impact businesses. "The reality is that the rule made more people eligible for overtime; it didn’t create any obligation for employers to pay more overtime," he said. McLafferty added that the regulation’s impact on employees could have a wider effect on office culture and policies, which may affect a company’s ability to attract and retain workers. In addition, he noted that employers should take this opportunity to ensure that all of their employees are properly classified for overtime purposes.
Albert Zakarian has been chosen as a winner of The Connecticut Law Tribune's second annual Professional Excellence Awards. The awards recognize two dozen lawyers for outstanding service to the profession during their long careers. The publication received more than 70 nominations. Profiles of awardees will appear in the Law Tribune in May. An event will also be held in May to recognize the winners. More about the awards can be found here.
Howard Fetner was quoted in an article, "Judge Allows Company to Withhold Benefits From Departing Employee," in The Connecticut Law Tribune. Fetner represented Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC), a statewide company that provides health care services to low-income patients, in a case in which a former CHC employee sought to recover compensation for unused paid time off. Following a trial, the court ruled in favor of CHC, reinforcing an employer's right to condition the payment of compensation for accrued fringe benefits upon an employee's giving a specified amount of advance notice of termination.