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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at hrlawupdate@verrilldana.com, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Thursday
May252017

Termination of Wife Swapping Deputies is Constitutional

As the Fifth Circuit noted, the facts are undisputed.  The Chief Deputy Sheriff learned that two sheriff’s deputies had “taken up residence in the other’s house, exchanging spouses without having divorced their current wives.” As a result he placed the two deputies on leave for violating the Sheriff’s Code of Conduct which included the following standards:

Conduct yourselves at all times in such a manner as to reflect the high standards of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office . . . [and] do not engage in any illegal, immoral, or indecent conduct, nor engage in any legitimate act which, when performed in view of the public, would reflect unfavorabl[y] upon the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.

Not only did the Chief Deputy Sheriff believe the Sheriff’s Code of Conduct had been violated—but also that the deputies had violated policy by failing to inform their direct supervisors of a change in address within 24 hours of the change.  The deputies were given a specified period of time to cease living with the woman who was not his spouse or they would be considered to have voluntarily terminated employment.  The deadline passed, the deputies living situations had not changed, and a lawsuit was instituted by Plaintiffs.

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Wednesday
May242017

PODCAST - Workers Compensation in a Modern Marine Economy

The so-called “blue economy” is evolving at a rapid pace.  As a result, innovative marine-based businesses are finding themselves exposed to risks when technological development outpaces legal development.  This podcast discusses the risk of worker’s compensation exposure that modern marine businesses face and how best to manage that exposure. Listen to the podcast below or download it on Soundcloud or iTunes

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Friday
May122017

Straight to the Heart of Dixie: Alabama Workers' Compensation Act Ruled Unconstitutional

On Monday, May 8, a Jefferson County (Birmingham) Circuit Court Judge found two specific provisions of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act unconstitutional, and because one or more provisions of the law were unconstitutional, the entire law was struck down.  The two provisions at issue were a maximum cap of $220 per week in indemnity benefits, and a 15% cap on attorneys’ fees, both long the subject of debate and discontent in the legal community.  The maximum benefit cap dates back to 1987, when $220 would have been more reasonable as a cap than it is in today’s economy. (In comparison, the current maximum cap on indemnity benefits in Maine is $789.35). The 15% cap on attorney’s fees is also dated, and at this point serves to prevent access to legal assistance in some instances.  After finding these two provisions to be unconstitutional in the case before him, Circuit Judge Pat Ballard then stayed his decision for 120 days, to allow the Legislature to respond to his decision in the case.

What does this matter to employers in Maine, you might wonder?  It is a signal of a trend that began to gain momentum about a year and a half ago of various stakeholders calling for strict examination of the benefit and legal access provisions of State workers’ compensation laws. 

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Tuesday
May022017

Breaking News on Medical Marijuana in Maine Workers' Compensation

We have just learned that the State of Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, has accepted Bourgoin v. Twin Rivers Paper Co., L.L.C., and Decision No. 16-26, one of a pair of Administrative Law Judge decisions addressing medical marijuana that the Appellate Division affirmed last summer.  The Law Court will examine the question of whether the Administrative Law Judge erred by compelling reimbursement for medical marijuana as reasonable and necessary under the Workers’ Compensation Act, despite the fact that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.

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Friday
Apr282017

You Say Paternity, I Say Pawternity: Creative Leave Policies that Work for Your Culture

We talk a lot about the parameters of leave programs.  New state laws that are popping up regularly that expand on employee leave rights.  While we focus on the legal aspects of all leave laws, we do recognize the importance of having leave policies that work for the culture of your organization.  Many companies in the United Kingdom are doing just that. 

A Scotland-based craft beer company, BrewDog, is offering leave to employees welcoming new four-legged members into their family.  BrewDog, a brewery started in Scotland that has since expanded internationally with over 1,000 employees is offering a week of paid “Pawternity” or “Mutternity” leave to any employee welcoming a new dog into their family. 

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Thursday
Apr272017

PODCAST – ADA Title III Public Accommodations: New Accessibility Considerations for Businesses

Most business owners are aware that if their business is public-facing they need to provide access for the physically disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. By definition, Title III under the ADA provides that individuals cannot be discriminated against on the basis of disability, “in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of accommodation by any person who owns, leases, leases to or operates a place of public accommodation.” While classically this includes what we would typically think of as public-facing businesses, such as movie theaters, restaurants, bowling alleys, and hospitals, it does also include private businesses, like doctors’ offices, accounting firms, and even non-profits.

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