News articles by and about Skoler Abbott Attorneys.

Articles with the HR logo are reprinted from HR Hero’s Massachusetts Employment Law Letter.

  • amelia-j-holstrom

    What Can Employers Learn From the #MeToo Movement?

    Speaker Amelia J. Holstrom says laws unchanged since start of #MeToo movement

    Because there’s no cap to potential damages, a sexual harassment judgment can be costly to employers, said Ms. Holstrom, who advises her clients to reach beyond legal definitions. “I want them to be thinking, ‘Does this behavior belong in my workplace?’ A lot of times behavior that’s inappropriate may not raise to the level of harassment under the law, but it still means you can do something about it.”
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  • erica-e-flores

    How Will Availability Of Recreational Marijuana Affect The Workplace?

    Talking Pot by Erica E. Flores

    It took almost two years, but Massachusetts regulators have finally started to issue licenses to businesses looking to grow, manufacture, distribute, and sell recreational marijuana products in the Commonwealth.
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  • john-s-gannon

    Are You Ready For The New Paid Family And Medical Leave Law?

    A Grand Bargain for Business? by John S. Gannon and Amelia J. Holstrom

    Last month, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the so-called ‘grand bargain’ bill. The new law, which was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on June 28, will require all private employers — regardless of size — to provide paid family and medical leave to employees. The law also gradually raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. Here is what businesses need to know about this important legislation.
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  • timothy-f-murphy

    Springfield area law firm hosts seminar on Grand Bargain Bill

    WWLP covers Grand Bargain Bill seminar hosted by Skoler Abbott

    The Grand Bargain Bill was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker last month, increasing minimum wage, requiring paid leave for workers and also mandating an annual sales tax holiday. Although the law doesn't go into effect for the next few years, dozens of employers gathered for a seminar on what this means for their businesses Wednesday morning.
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  • erica-e-flores

    Seen@ The 2018 BusinessWest 40 Under Forty gala at The Log Cabin

    Erica Flores recognized as one of BusinessWest's 40 Under Forty for 2018

    BusinessWest honored young business and community leaders at the publication's "40 Under Forty" gala held at the Log Cabin and Banquet House on Thursday with more than 600 visitors in attendance.
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  • erica-e-flores

    "40 Under 40" honors young Pioneer Valley professionals

    WWLP coverage of the BusinessWest 40 under Forty Class of 2018

    Business West celebrated it's "40 Under 40" at the Log Cabin Thursday night. The annual event recognizes 40 Pioneer Valley professionals who have achieved success and given back to the community. This year's 40 honorees were chosen from among 180 nominees, including young business owners, politicians, and attorneys.
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  • marylou-v-fabbo

    Salary vs. Hourly — Which is Right for Your Small Business

    Marylou Fabbo talks to FitSmallBusiness about methods for paying exempt and non-exempt employees

    A salaried employee is one that is paid a fixed rate at set intervals for a job whereas an hourly employee is paid by the hour for work performed. There are pros and cons to paying salary vs. hourly. We’ll discuss the benefits of each type of employee pay, such as ease of administration and accuracy so that you can decide what works best for your small business.
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  • erica-e-flores

    Accommodating Employee Use of Medical Marijuana

    Erica Flores helps employers navigate the murky waters of Medical Marijuana in the workplace

    Since President Nixon signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in October 1970, the use of marijuana by anybody for any purpose has been flatly prohibited in this country as a matter of federal law. The prohibition lived in relative harmony with state law for the better part of three decades, until 1996, when California voters passed a ballot initiative legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes by qualifying patients. That act set off a wave of similar action in states across the country, including the 2012 ballot initiative that adopted the Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana in Massachusetts.
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  • susan-g-fentin

    Software company faces hard problems over unpaid commissions

    Susan Fentin highlights potential liability when considering a RIF

    Employers facing litigation over wage and hour violations frequently must deal with claims besides those under the Massachusetts Wage Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which are the state and federal statutes governing wage claims in the Commonwealth. Employees seeking unpaid wages sometimes add other claims to their lawsuits, hoping they may be successful under another theory if their statutory claims aren’t successful. Read on for a discussion of some of those potential causes of action and how to avoid them if you’re faced with a similar set of circumstances.
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  • kimberly-a-klimczuk

    Unacceptable Behavior Not Excused by Mental Illness

    Kimberly Klimczuk recaps an important court ruling for the Americans with Disabilities Act

    A school district employer that terminated an employee for inappropriate conduct caused by her disability did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
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  • john-s-gannon

    CHD, EANE Offer Free Forum on Mental Health in the Workplace

    John Gannon sits on a panel for an important discussion on employee mental health

    CHD and the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) will co-present a forum designed for human-resources professionals and business owners on the subject of “Mental Health in the Workplace.” The panel will discuss topics such as identifying mental-health issues with your employees, creating a system of support and resources for your organization, the legalities of supporting employees through mental-health issues, and the importance of setting up a holistic approach to mental wellness.
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  • erica-e-flores

    Equal Pay Ruling Supports Trend Against Asking Applicants for Salary History

    Erica Flores discusses the risks of basing pay on salary history

    A new appeals court ruling is just the latest sign of the risks associated with basing salary offers on applicants’ pay history. An 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—ruled on April 9 that basing a salary offer on an applicant’s compensation at a previous job can be discriminatory under the federal Equal Pay Act.
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  • kimberly-a-klimczuk

    Sick-leave Law Continues to Present Challenges for Employers

    Kimberly Klimczuk answers common questions on the Earned Sick Time Law

    It’s been almost three years since Massachusetts’ Earned Sick Time Law went into effect (how time flies), but employment-law attorneys still frequently receive questions about the law and the administration of earned sick leave. Like any leave law, the sick-leave law presents unique challenges to employers.
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  • john-s-gannon

    The Benefits and Pitfalls of the Employee Handbook

    John Gannon talks to BusinessWest about the ins and outs of Employee Handbooks

    Most companies, especially larger ones, have employee handbooks that detail everything from vacation time to reasons for termination. Yet, too many are content to draft a handbook and shelve it for years, never reviewing it for changes in the regulatory landscape or confusing or contradictory language. In the ever-changing world of employment law, those are mistakes that can prove costly in more ways than one.
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  • erica-e-flores

    Springfield Workplace Sexual Harassment Forum

    Erica Flores presents the legal risks of sexual harassment in the workplace

    Sexual harassment is a topic most people would rather avoid talking about, but since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein emerged, sexual harassment has grabbed the headlines and stayed there. Now, companies are focusing on how to address and prevent workplace sexual harassment.
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  • john-s-gannon

    Sexual Harassment: Lessons for Employers Following Recent Decisions

    John Gannon shares important takeaways from recent sexual harassment decisions

    Verified accounts of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and political arena have spiraled out of control. Unfortunately, most of the accusations do not involve one-time events that can be chalked up to mistakes in judgment. Instead, employers and others in control took a head-in-the-sand approach, hoping the harassing behavior would magically go away on its own. That type of response puts employers at risk of liability and can damage a company’s reputation in the media far worse than a lawsuit would.
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  • amelia-j-holstrom

    With July 1 Just Around the Corner, Employers Must Be Ready

    Skoler Abbott attorneys help employers prepare for new Pay Equity Law

    This summer, Massachusetts will enact what many believe to be the most stringent pay-equity legislation in the country. Back in August 2016, Gov. Charlie Baker signed “An Act to Establish Pay Equity,” which amends the state’s existing equal-pay law and goes into effect on July 1, 2018. The intent of the legislation is laudable; it is aimed at strengthening pay equity between men and women in the Commonwealth.
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  • susan-g-fentin

    Thoughts on sexual harassment – a personal perspective

    Susan Fentin shares her experience with sexual harassment to aid understanding

    I do a lot of antiharassment training. In the past, much of my training has followed a relatively standard format explaining that Massachusetts employers can be liable for harassment by supervisors even if employees don’t complain and that supervisors can “aid and abet” a hostile work environment by turning a blind eye to problematic situations. I also point out that the fact that no one has protested a sexually charged atmosphere doesn’t mean it’s not a problem for the employer. But the recent flood of news about offensive sexual behavior has caused me to rethink my approach to training.
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  • erica-e-flores

    Luncheon provides sexual harassment avoidance knowledge

    Erica Flores discusses workplace sexual harrassment at Chamber event

    It seems like a growing trend, people being accused of workplace sexual harrassment. On Thursday, dozens of people gathered at the Colony Club in downtown Springfield, for a ‘Lunch n Learn’ about workplace sexual harassment. It comes in the wake of dozens of celebrities, like Harvey Weinstein, being accused of abusing their power and sexually assaulting women. The luncheon provided employers with information on how to protect their companies’ brand against sexual assault.
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  • marylou-v-fabbo

    Accommodating Religions in the Workplace

    Marylou Fabbo examines religious accommodations with BusinessWest

    During the holiday season, employers may have been faced with a variety of religion-related requests such as whether they may display certain religious icons in their work areas. Throughout the year, employees may want time off to observe certain holy days rather than conforming to the employer’s holiday schedule, request breaks to pray, or seek an exemption from an employer’s dress or grooming standards so that they may express themselves consistent with their religious beliefs. While employers do not question most requests, what should an employer do if it suspects that the requested accommodation is being made to upset a co-worker or that an employee is requesting certain days off to go shopping or take a long weekend?
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  • erica-e-flores

    Lessons from the #MeToo Wave

    Erica Flores provides insight on the #metoo movement with BusinessWest

    As 2017 winds to a close, society continues to be rocked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the #MeToo movement, and the unending torrent of allegations against prominent and powerful men. We find ourselves wondering what happened. Or, more importantly, how this has been going on for so long, seemingly undetected. But sexual harassment isn’t a new problem. And it’s not a problem that went away and is just now returning. No, sexual harassment has always existed, in one form or another. After the Mad Men era, perhaps it became a bit more taboo, and less an accepted norm, but it did not go away. So why now?
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  • timothy-f-murphy

    Arbitration frustration: choking on SJC’s decision to uphold officer’s reinstatement

    Timothy Murphy discusses a recent decision involving the downside of arbitration

    One of the most common features of collective bargaining agreements is the right to have an independent arbitrator decide whether an employee was disciplined for “just cause.” That right is a “game changer” because giving a third-party arbitrator the last word on employee discipline is a considerable check on an employer’s authority to enforce its rules of conduct. In 2015, we reported on a trial court’s decision in a case involving arbitration (see “Standoff between city and cop shows downside of arbitration” on pg. 4 of our September 2015 issue). Now we have the benefit of a decision from Massachusetts’ highest court.
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  • john-s-gannon

    Sexual harassment in the workplace: What crosses the line?

    John Gannon talks to WWLP about workplace sexual harassment scandals

    It’s an announcement that shocked millions of viewers across the country. Today Show Host Matt Lauer was fired by NBC News Wednesday, making him the second morning television show personality to lose his job this past week over alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace.
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  • kimberly-a-klimczuk

    False assumptions, ill-advised questions just a few hiring hazards to avoid

    Kimberly Klimczuk offers guidance on avoiding hiring pitfalls

    Ever finish interviewing a job candidate and wonder if you’ve asked enough questions—or maybe asked too many? Worse, do you wonder what problematic questions others involved in the hiring process may have asked? The human resources department probably trains managers on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, but in spite of that training, hiring managers sometimes delve into areas that can expose employers to discrimination claims.
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  • timothy-f-murphy

    Girl Scouts Announce Winners of ToGetHerThere Awards

    Timothy Murphy wins 'Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout' award

    Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) announced the recipients of the inaugural ToGetHerThere Awards. The five award recipients have a shared vision of creating a culture of creativity and caring, where young women feel confident in their ability to work hard, dream big, and face with courage any obstacle that stands in the way of making their dreams come true. The winners have affected hundreds of lives and serve as role models for other organizations grappling with how to support underserved members in their communities.
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  • marylou-fabbo

    Foreign Affairs – There’s No Better Time Than Now to Audit Your I-9s (07-30-17)

    Marylou Fabbo discusses auditing I-9’s in Healthcare News

    Although a new version of the Form I-9 became mandatory only earlier this year, on July 17, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued yet another revised Form I-9. On Sept. 18, 2017, use of the new Form I-9 will be mandatory, but employers who want to do so can start using it now. For many companies, a new I-9 presents a new opportunity to make an I-9 error, and those errors can be costly.
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  • erica-e-flores

    1st Circuit: ADA leave requests must be reasonable on their face (08-23-17)

    Erica Flores explores a court decision that could impact employee leave requests

    It happens all the time – an employee takes a job-protected leave of absence for a medical condition and, when her available leave expires, he or she asks for more time . . . and then more still . . . and more again.
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  • kimberly-a-klimczuk

    A Closer Look at Massachusetts’ Equal Pay Legislation (06-23-17)

    Massachusetts Lawyers Journal features Kimberly Klimczuk’s look into pay equity

    (See page 24.) It’s long been illegal for Massachusetts employers to pay women less than men (or men less than women, for that matter) for comparable work. In fact, Massachusetts was the first state ever to implement an equal pay law, with the passage of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act in 1945. So why is it that, over 70 years after the state outlawed pay discrimination, women, as a whole, still do not earn as much as their male counterparts?
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  • john-s-gannon

    Recent Decision Reinforces Personal Liability in Employment Law (06-13-17)

    John Gannon provides insight on supervisor liability with BusinessWest

    Many state and federal employment laws provide a path for litigious employees to individually sue their managers or supervisors, while at the same time suing the employer as a completely separate entity. These laws can put managers and supervisors in the dreadful position of having to personally defend themselves in a lawsuit, while exposing their personal assets (home, car, bank accounts, etc.) to risk if the plaintiff is successful. It also means having to pay defense costs and attorney’s fees regardless of how the case turns out.
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  • susan-g-fentin

    ‘Snowflake’ test: Legitimate hiring tactic or invitation for trouble? (05-31-17)

    Susan Fentin shares her concern about “snowflake” testing job applicants

    Anyone tasked with wading through stacks of resumes and talking to applicants lined up for interviews understands how frustrating and time-consuming hiring can be. It’s understandable that people in charge of hiring crave out-of-the-box solutions. But how far should employers go in their efforts to weed out applicants who clearly won’t be a good fit?
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  • john-s-gannon

    Questions of Substance – How Can Employers Fight Addiction While Limiting Liability (04-20-17)

    John Gannon answers burning questions on employee drug use for Healthcare News

    Can a job applicant be rejected because of medical-marijuana use? Can employees be let go for lawfully using narcotic pain medications, such as prescription opioids? These are questions without easy answers.
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  • amelia-j-holstrom

    Lunch ‘n’ Learn Focuses on the ‘Trump Effect’ (04-20-17)

    Join Skoler Abbott’s Amelia Holstrom for an in-depth look into the “Trump Effect”

    SPRINGFIELD — Skoler, Abbott & Presser will present a talk on how the Trump Administration mandates could potentially affect employers at the Springfield Regional Chamber Lunch ‘n Learn on May 10, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lattitude restaurant, 1338 Memorial Ave., West Springfield.
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  • marylou-fabbo

    New Anti-retaliation Provisions Pose Challenges for Employers (04-05-17)

    Marylou Fabbo analyzes OSHA’s new rules for BusinessWest

    Last summer, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a number of regulatory changes that are designed to improve employee safety. For organizations that have not yet taken a look at how the rule may impact their company’s policies and procedures, now is the time to do so.
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  • amelia-j-holstrom

    Webinar on April 5 to Help Businesses Address Gender Pay-gap Issues (04-05-17)

    Amelia Holstrom hosts enlightening webinar on the gender pay-gap

    Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. invites business owners, managers, and human-resource professionals to an informative webinar outlining ways to review compensation practices to address gender pay-gap issues and minimize legal liabilities. The webinar will be held Wednesday, April 5 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and hosted by attorney Amelia Holstrom of Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C.
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