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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, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in Massachusetts (22)


The Bay State Rules Qualified Medicinal Marijuana User Has Civil Remedy Against Her Employer

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued an opinion in Cristina Barbutos v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, SJC-12226 (Ma. July 17, 2017), finding that an employee qualified to use marijuana under the Commonwealth’s medicinal marijuana statute had a cause of action against her former employer through the Commonwealth’s handicap discrimination statute.  The opinion reversed the lower-court’s dismissal of the former employee’s cause of action, but simultaneously found that the medicinal marijuana act itself did not contain an implied statutory private right of action.

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Marijuana is Legal in Massachusetts . . . Now What

On Tuesday, Massachusetts residents legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.  How does this effect your relationship with your employees and what steps should you be taking in the near future? 

First, the statute includes an employment provision which provides that: “This chapter shall not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this chapter in the workplace and shall not affect the authority of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees.”  Accordingly, now is the time to get out your employee handbooks and your anti-drug policies and review the language included in the policies to make sure that the language restricts the use of drugs that are illegal under either state or federal law, as you don’t want to find yourself in a position arguing that marijuana is “legal” under state law, but “illegal” under federal law.

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When Pain and Suffering is Anything But

In Massachusetts, as in many states, when an employee is injured in the course of work, but the injury is caused by a third party, the employee is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits and also seek damages from the third party. For example, employee Ernie is driving the Company’s vehicle on company business. He’s heading down Storrow Drive when Bert, out for a relaxing drive, crashes into Ernie’s vehicle. Ernie is injured. Ernie is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits from the Company’s workers’ compensation insurer, but Ernie may also bring suit against Bert, seeking various damages from Bert and Bert’s auto insurer. Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 152, § 15 provides the Company’s workers’ compensation insurer with a lien against any damages Ernie recovers to reimburse it for benefits paid to Ernie under the workers’ compensation act. However, certain categories of damages are not subject to the workers’ compensation lien, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court just made one exempted category much clearer.

The Court, in DiCarlo v. Suffolk Constructions Co., Inc., et al. consolidated two 2014 Appeals Court decisions involving employees injured in the course of employment who had reached settlement agreements with the third parties responsible for their injuries. Back in 2011, the Appeals Court had ruled that damages recovered in a third party action attributable

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Individual Liability for Violators of New Massachusetts Gender Identity Public Accommodation Statute

Effective October 1, Massachusetts business owners who operate “places of public accommodations” will be prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of gender identity.  Specifically,

An owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement that lawfully segregates or separates access to such place of public accommodation, or a portion of such place of public accommodation, based on a person’s sex shall grant all persons admission to, and the full enjoyment of, such place of public accommodation or portion thereof consistent with the person’s gender identity.

(Transgender Public Accommodations Bill.)  Massachusetts has prohibited transgender discrimination in housing, education, and employment since 2011, but has now extended the protections to public accommodations.  The statute is aimed to protect individual’s rights to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match the person’s gender identity. 

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New Massachusetts Equal Pay Law is not Effective Until January 1, 2018, But Employers Should Pay Attention Now

On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law sweeping changes to the state’s prohibition on discrimination in pay on the basis of an employee’s gender. The law is one of the most aggressive equal pay laws passed in the United States and contains unique provisions to combat pay disparities.

The law, entitled “An Act to establish equal pay,” goes farther than the prohibition on pay discrimination currently found in Massachusetts General Law ch. 149, § 105A by, among other things, making certain employer practices that may have the unintended effect of perpetuating pay disparities unlawful. For example, the law makes it unlawful for an employer to:

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Scheme to Avoid Employer Liability Results in Consent Judgment

Using a staffing company to supply workers can seem to be a wonderful way to secure a qualified workforce while avoiding the challenges of hiring employees and the administrative demands associated with having so many people in your employ. Probably for these very reasons United Plastics contracted with ASI Staffing Group to provide workers at United Plastics’ facilities in Massachusetts and Mississippi. United Plastics’ learned the hard way, though, that it was still subject to the legal ramifications of being the employer of these agency employees. As part of a June 2016 consent judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, United Plastics and ASI Staffing Group agreed as joint employers to pay 566 ASI employees $1.4 million in back wages and liquidated damages for overtime pay.

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