Employer-employee relationships can be complicated, and sometimes strained relationships become liabilities that trigger lawsuits. This was certainly the scenario spurring a recent case, Governo Law Firm LLC v. Kendra Ann Bergeron & others. A group of employee attorneys from Governo Law Firm (“Governo”) stole firm-owned databases while still employed by the firm. They used those materials for their own benefit to start a competing law firm. This case teaches us some interesting things about liability under G.L. c 93A, §11— the Consumer Protection law that protects individuals and businesses from “unfair and deceptive” behavior in the marketplace.
A new decision from the Massachusetts Appeals Court has called into question the breadth and scope of an employee’s right to rebut negative information put into her personnel file by an employer.
Under G.L. c. 149, §52C, if an employee disagrees with the employer regarding negative information being added to her employee file, the employee has a statutory right to have her side of the story included in the file by way of a rebuttal. In doing so, the employee is able to protect herself by ensuring that the information contained in her file includes both sides of the dispute. On January 20, 2021, however, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held in Meehan v. Medical Info. Tech., Inc. that an employee may be fired for filing a rebuttal under the statute.
As businesses and executives accelerate their transition to a primarily online environment, a greater need has arisen to monitor one’s online reputation. A recent opinion by the Massachusetts Appeals Court warns that one must act quickly when that reputation is wrongfully maligned.
On May 6, 2020, the United States Department of Education released new regulations governing the application of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational institutions. These regulations become effective on August 14, 2020. Although these regulations also govern the application of Title IX at elementary and secondary schools, this alert focuses on the impact in the college and university setting.
On January 14, 2020, the highest court in the Commonwealth held that, while a former shareholder and employee of a closely-held company breached a restrictive covenant with the company, the trial judge’s decision to extend the restrictive covenant beyond its plain terms was erroneous under the circumstances.
Can a Massachusetts employer fire an employee who is on authorized medical leave but uses some of the time off to go on vacation? Not without risk. A recent case from the Supreme Judicial Court warns that employers must be cautious when dealing with employees whom they suspect to be abusing their medical leave benefits.
All Massachusetts employers, regardless of the employer’s size, must begin putting into place mechanisms to implement the newly-passed Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law, M.G.L. c. 175M (PFML).
The law provides paid leave benefits for W-2 employees of Massachusetts employers. It also provides benefits for 1099 contractors if they make up more than 50% of the employer’s total workforce (W-2 employees plus 1099 contractors) and unemployed persons so long as they have been unemployed for less than twenty-six (26) weeks and have met the earnings requirements. Much like unemployment benefits, the weekly paid leave benefit is calculated as a percentage of the worker’s earnings, up to $850 per week.
Read more in this month’s newsletter.
Effective October 1, 2018, employers must comply with a new Massachusetts non-compete law geared at protecting both employees and independent contractors from undue restrictions on their ability to work, on one hand, while providing employers some leeway to protect their business interests through compliant, reasonably-tailored non-competition agreements. Non-compete agreements are contracts between employers and workers (both employees and independent contractors) that restrict workers from engaging in certain competitive activities for a defined period of time after termination of their relationships with the business. Read more in this month’s newsletter.
It is not uncommon in a business deal for individuals—owners, for instance— to personally guarantee the business’s obligations to a third party (such as a lender or landlord). These types of arrangements are beneficial in situations where, for example, a lender is unwilling to do business with a startup or similar company that has a few or no assets, but will agree to enter into the deal so long as the business owner personally guarantees that the lender will be repaid on the debt or investment even if the business fails. Read more in this month’s newsletter.
The Massachusetts Wage Act (Ch. 149, §§ 148-150) permits lawsuits for unpaid wages to be brought against a company’s president, treasurer, or officers or agents having the management of the company. While the terms “president,” “treasurer,” and “officer” are relatively well-defined, until recently there was significant uncertainty about who qualified as an “agent having the management” of a company to be held personally liable under the Wage Act.
Read about the scope of personal liability for two groups of non-officers: investors and board members.
Laredo & Smith offers clients big-firm expertise with the client-centered, cost-effective strategy that only a small firm can offer.
- Can Employee Actions Trigger Unexpected Liabilities?June 30, 2021 - 4:08 pm
- Can An Employee Be Fired For Rebutting A Negative Review? Maybe.February 16, 2021 - 2:13 pm
- Protecting Your Business’ Reputation on the InternetOctober 13, 2020 - 11:46 am
- Understanding the New Regulations Governing Title IX for Colleges and UniversitiesJune 22, 2020 - 2:20 pm
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