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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. 

Wednesday
Jan042012

Workers' Comp Update: Changes Afoot For Unemployed Injured Workers

39-A M.R.S.A. §214 has long contained a little-if-ever used provision requiring insurance carriers or self-insureds to notify the Bureau of Employment Services of the name of any injured employee who is unemployed and to whom the insurer or self-insured is paying workers’ compensation benefits.  Executive Director Paul Sighinolfi has recently communicated his intent to begin requiring compliance with this provision, as well as the companion provision directing the Bureau of Employment Services to give priority to finding employment for such persons and to notify the Board, in writing, if any such person refuses a “bona fide offer of reasonable employment.” 

Under Section 214(1), refusal of a “bona fide offer of reasonable employment” subjects the injured worker to the risk of a suspension of indemnity benefits “during the period of refusal”, a fairly significant incentive to encourage workers to return to work.  A group is being organized affiliated with the Workers’ Compensation Coordinating Council to brainstorm ways to ensure the most reasonable and cost-effective application of these provisions, and to avoid any unintended pitfalls for employers and insurers subject to the provisions of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act.

Stay tuned for more updates on policy and legal changes to Maine's Workers' Compensation laws.

Wednesday
Dec282011

NLRB's Notice Posting Deadline And "Quickie" Election Rules Take Effect on April 30, 2012

Notice Posting Rule Postponed

On December 23, the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") announced that it has again postponned implementation of the Notice Posting Rule, which requires most employers to post a notice informing employees of their right to unionize.  The new deadline for employers to post the notice is April 30, 2012.  

The NLRB decided to postpone implementation as a result of a request made by a Federal Judge in connection with a consolidated lawsuit brought by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., which alleges that the NLRB does not have statutory authority to implement such a rule.

"Quickie" Election Rules Adopted

On December 22, the NLRB formally adopted new rules that will speed up the representation election process.   As we previously informed you, the new "Quickie" Election Rules will significantly impede an employer's right to communicate with its workforce and to petition the goverment for redress.  The new rules will likely result in representation elections taking place 10 to 21 days after a union files a petition to represent workers.  In the past, employers had between 40 and 45 days in which to educate their workforce on the risks and downsides of unionization.  The new rules effectively cut that time in half and there are new procedures that limit the issues an employer can challenge during the pre and post election process.  The new election rules, like the notice posting rule, take effect on April 30, 2012. 

It is expected that a variety of organziations will challenge the NLRB's new election rules, just as they have challenged the notice posting rule.   Still, these new election rules underscore the importance of employers being proactive in educating their workers about union issues, including issues related to union authorization cards and the collective bargaining process.  If employers don't educate their workers, unions will.

Tuesday
Dec272011

Workers' Comp Update: After Eighteen Long Years, At Last A Medical Fee Schedule That Addresses Hospital Costs

The Maine Workers’ Compensation Board has finally succeeded in crafting a Medical Fee Schedule that addresses the ever-increasing costs of work-related in-patient, out-patient, ambulant care and surgical center costs. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec202011

Scrooged Again: How To Avoid Turning Holiday Cheer Into A Holiday Lawuist

When the 1980's and 1990's ended, so too did the era of the "anything goes" company holiday blowout - and that's a good thing.  Nowadays, companies are far more pragmatic in how they plan and execute their holiday parties.  Company get-togethers can boost worker morale and let employees know you appreciate their hard work.  But every year lawyers around the world get calls from clients seeking advice on how to deal with the fallout from a holiday party.  Never fear, here are some practical (and hopefully fun) tips you can follow to reduce the risk of turning your festive holiday party, into a costly and expense lawsuit:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec162011

DOL To Eliminate FLSA Exemption For Certain Healthcare Workers

For over thirty years home healthcare workers have been exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act's ("FLSA") companionship exemption.  This week the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") announced that it plans to create new regulations that will extend federal overtime and wage protections to roughly two-million home healthcare workers.  Although most home healthcare workers earn at least minimum wage, many do not receive overtime compensation, including compensation for the time they spend traveling between patients' homes.  Some states, such as Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, already provide home healthcare workers with minimum wage and overtime protections under state wage and hour laws.  Thus, the impact in those states will likely be less than in the vast majority of other states that do not have similar state wage and hour requirements.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec142011

Supreme Court To Rule On Critical FLSA Overtime Issue

The United States Supreme Court will soon consider whether pharmaceutical sales representatives ("PSRs") are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").  The case comes to the Court from the Ninth Circuit where that court found that PSRs are exempt from overtime pay under the FLSA's "outside sales" exemption.  In contrast, the Second Circuit had previously ruled that PSRs are not exempt from overtime.  Thus, there is a circuit split and the Supreme Court's decision could have ramifications for employers in general, especially those that maintain an outside sales force.

Click to read more ...