Category: Employment

Five Important Employment Trends for Massachusetts Retailers in 2018

Having survived the holiday shopping season, retailers should begin to prepare for any new employment laws that will go into effect in the coming year (and, of course, should ensure that they are complying with existing laws). This process can be even more challenging for retailers with stores in...
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Update: Tip Pooling by Restaurant Owners Remains in Flux

This past April, we reported on a recent Ninth Circuit ruling which upheld a 2011 Department of Labor (“DOL”) rule that prohibits restaurants from instituting tip-pooling arrangements that include both front-of-house staff that are customarily and regularly tipped (such as waiters, waitresses, bellhops, and service bartenders) and back-of-house staff...
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E-commerce Is Changing the Definition of Retail Employment

The retail landscape is in the midst of a mind-boggling – and fast-moving – evolution.  In a short amount of time, Americans have radically changed how they shop for things, utilizing multiple channels of shopping to meet their needs.  80% of Americans are now shopping online, and they utilize...
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Blazing the Trail: SJC to Decide Medical Marijuana Discrimination Case

Marijuana in the workplace is currently a hot topic for retail employers , especially since voters in Massachusetts and other states legalized the recreational use of marijuana in November 2016. The law that passed and became effective in December 2016 explicitly notes that employers retain their authority to implement policies...
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The Ascendency of Accessibility: Surge in Website Lawsuits Continues

The proliferation of accessibility lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has not abated. It is well-documented that ADA-related litigation increased by 37% from 2015 to 2016, which is symptomatic of long-term trends. Growth is fueled in part by litigants’ increased focus on internet-based technologies,...
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Retailers’ On-Call Scheduling Practices Under Scrutiny in Eight States and D.C.

On April 12, 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to fifteen retailers requesting information regarding their use of “on-call shifts” in scheduling employees. The letters were similar to those letters sent by the New York Attorney General in April, 2015 with a critical difference – the...
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Retail Litigation Center: A National and Influential Force In Litigation

The Retail Litigation Center (RLC) is a trade organization attached to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) that describes itself as “the only organization dedicated to advocating the retail industry's perspective in those judicial proceedings that are most important to the retail community.”  Launched by RILA in 2010, the RLC is a...
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Pushing Back on Just-in-Time Scheduling

In September 2014, this blog asked the question: “Is Just-in-Time Scheduling Good for Business?”   Twenty months later, it seems like that question has been answered and our prediction that retailers may be legally required to alter their Just-in-Time scheduling practices has come true, at least in New York...
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The War for Talent: It’s On

It’s not exactly news that we have a war for talent in the U.S. Since the recession of 2008, business commentators have followed the U.S. population’s return to work. When unemployment was high and workers had no alternatives, they often stayed at jobs regardless of their level of satisfaction...
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Uber Drivers: Employees or Independent Contractors?

Since its founding in 2009, Uber has gained both praise and notoriety for shaking up the taxi industry by allowing individuals who meet minimum requirements to provide an on-demand car service via the Uber mobile app.  In December 2014, there were 162,037 active Uber drivers in the United States...
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It’s Time to Give Your Hiring Processes a Check-up. Are They Compliant?

As your prospective employees are brushing up on their interview skills, it’s also a good time to ensure your hiring practices and procedures are in order.  A regular review of employment application processes will keep them up-to-date. Scheduling time with hiring managers and Human Resources to freshen up interviewing...
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Massachusetts Expands Parental Leave Rights

Effective April 7, 2015, Massachusetts employers with six or more employees must provide childbirth leave on a gender neutral basis.  Under a new Parental Leave Act law (“PLA”) signed by former Governor Deval Patrick on the day before he left office, Massachusetts men will now be guaranteed eight weeks...
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A Five-Point Checklist for the Holiday Shopping Season

The Halloween costume pop-up stores are gone, and they’re starting to be replaced by other seasonal attractions. Before long the snow will by flying, and shoppers will be ready to hit the stores before work, on their lunch hours, and late into the evening. The very brave will hit...
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Is Just-in-Time Scheduling Good for Business?

Ten years ago, retail managers created schedules for hourly employees using a paper, pen, and a working knowledge of the store’s busy periods and their employees lives. Now, in many businesses, computers create employee schedules. Known as Just-in-Time (JIT) scheduling or “scheduling to demand,” JIT scheduling closely links labor...
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Hostile Doesn't Mean MEAN: Understanding Employment Law

Dealing with employees also means dealing with their misconceptions about employment law. This blog entry highlights some of these misconceptions and reminds employers of the significance of employment at will. Notwithstanding misunderstanding to contrary, it is still generally and genuinely the case that an employer can fire an employee...
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Spring Cleaning: Dealing with Increased Sexual Harassment Claims

Employment lawyers deal with more claims of sex harassment in the spring than at any other time all year (with the possible exception of the weeks immediately following company holiday parties). Whatever the reason, this is the time of year when employers are particularly worried about vicarious liability under...
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Naughty or Nice? Criminal Background Checks for Seasonal Employees at the Top of the List

The recent story of a Mall Santa accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old coworker at the Hanover Mall in Massachusetts highlights the potential pitfalls of hiring for the holiday season. In this case, the seasonal employee was subjected to a criminal background check and had no criminal record. That said,...
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New Laws Prohibit Employers from Requiring Access to Applicants’ Private Information

Most job applicants maintain one, if not several, social media accounts. Many employers now routinely review available social media resources when making employment decisions. This trend, together with cautions and advice, is the subject of previous blog entries . Today's topic is a little different. New Jersey recently became...
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Risk/Reward: Should Employers Rely on the Internet When Making Hiring Decisions?

By now, we all live with the understanding that the Internet will allow potential employers to learn something about us. Whether it is information on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or MySpace, most of us have left cyber footprints through which people around us form impressions of who we are. Often,...
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Scrutiny of Databases that Track Private Records of Employee Wrongdoing

Massachusetts recently changed the law governing access to criminal offender record information or CORI to insure that job applicants have an opportunity to find work without suffering unduly from past criminal misconduct. Employers often conduct background checks as part of pre-employment screening. The results of these checks, and other...
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Working With a Complainer: Avoiding Claims for Retaliation

Like most businesses, retailers sometimes face claims of employment discrimination from current employees. Many times those claims are made against individual supervisors as well as against the business itself. Often, the claims are filed by current employees who continue to work after complaining, in a very personal way, about...
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Social Media Policies: Protection for “Water Cooler” Discussions in the Digital Age

As discussed in an earlier blog post , conflict between retail employers and their employees over the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is increasingly common. Although retail employers are well-advised to adopt social media policies to set clear expectations for their employees, these policies...
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The Dangers of Social Media: Employment Disputes

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are proving to be an increasing source of conflict between employers and employees, with surprising and unpredictable outcomes. For example, a store manager who checks the Facebook account of a prospective hire may not realize that this activity can violate anti-discrimination...
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Reality TV: The Latest Retail Trend?

Most readers are probably well acquainted with reality television programming as a genre and with titles such as "Undercover Boss," "The Apprentice" and "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."   The seemingly insatiable public appetite for reality television programs can present an inviting promotional opportunity for retail businesses and their...
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