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The FTC’s “Ban” on Non-Competes

On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to issue a new rule largely prohibiting non-compete restrictions in the workplace. This groundbreaking rule was published in the Federal Register on May 7, 2024, and is presently scheduled to become effective on September 4, 2024. However, the FTC’s final rule has already been subjected to court challenges, so it bears watching whether it will, in fact, go into effect at that time. Notwithstanding the present uncertainty, employers and employees alike should understand the wide-ranging implications of the FTC’s new rule as it could largely reshape the dynamics of employer-employee …

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DOL Issues Final Rule Increasing Salary Thresholds for FLSA Exemptions

On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its anticipated final rule impacting annual salary-level thresholds for exemptions to overtime requirements pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In addition to increasing applicable earnings thresholds, the final rule also introduces a mechanism for automatically updating those thresholds on a going forward basis every three years. Presently, the salary threshold under the FLSA for executive, administrative, and professional employees is $684 per week, which annualizes to $35,568 per year. The threshold for highly compensated employees under the FLSA is currently $107,432 per year. Effective July 1, 2024, …

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MCAD Draft Guidelines on Harassment in the Workplace

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) recently issued draft Guidelines on Harassment in the Workplace.  These draft Guidelines are intended to replace the more narrowly focused Sexual Harassment guidelines that are currently in place. As an initial matter, the draft Guidelines state that workplace harassment is “a form of employment discrimination that deprives employees of their rights and basic well-being in the workplace and is prohibited by Massachusetts law …” It can include various forms, such as inappropriate jokes, derogatory comments, and discriminatory actions directed at an individual’s protected characteristics. In the draft Guidelines, the MCAD expands beyond sexual harassment …

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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule on Independent Contractor Classification under the FLSA

In January 2024, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a new final rule, effective March 11, 2024, revising the criteria for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final rule rescinds the DOL’s rule issued in 2021, which emphasized two “core factors” as being potentially determinative of the proper classification. Those two “core factors” include (1) the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work, and (2) the worker’s opportunity for profit. The new rule returns to a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis that was applied prior to the …

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Emerging Issues We Are Watching in 2024

As we step into 2024, there are several emerging developments from various federal and state agencies that we are monitoring.  Some of the more significant issues we are watching are set forth below: Potential Bans on Non-Compete Restrictions: Both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have taken steps that could lead to a broad ban or other significant limitation on the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts. Movement by one or both of these agencies on this issue could come as early as April 2024. Such a ban or even a more watered-down …

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Changes to Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Benefits

PFML Weekly Benefit Increase For 2024, the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) has increased the maximum weekly Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) benefit amount to $1,149.90 per week. Previously, the maximum benefit was $1,129.82. This benefit rate change became effective January 1, 2024. PFML Contribution Rate Increase Required contribution rates to the PFML trust fund have also increased in 2024. For employers with 25 or more covered employees, the total contribution rate rises to 0.88% (from 0.63%). In particular, the family leave contribution rate is now 0.18%, and the medical leave contribution rate is now 0.70%. …

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Labor Board Expands NLRA Protections to Include Support for Non-Employees

The National Labor Relations Board (Board) recently issued an important decision (American Federation for Children, Inc. 372 NLRB No. 137), which arguably expands the protections afforded to employees by the NLRA. Significantly, this decision overturned a prior Board decision (Amnesty International, 368 NLRB No. 112 (2019)) on the issue of conduct that constitutes “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA). The NLRA expressly protects employees’ rights to engage in “protected concerted activity,” which are also known as Section 7 rights under the NLRA. In Amnesty International, the Board had ruled that “[a]ctivity advocating only for non-employees is …

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Massachusetts CROWN Act enacted

On July 26, 2022 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act). The CROWN Act provides statutory protections for students and employees from discrimination based on hairstyles historically associated with race. Specifically, the CROWN Act provides that the statutory definition of “Race,” as applied to the bar on discrimination “shall include traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, length, and protective hairstyles.” The Crown Act also defines a “protective hairstyle” to include, “but not be limited to braids, locks, twists, Bantu …

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Massachusetts Wage Act Update

The Massachusetts Wage Act protects employees from delayed or non-payment of wages. For many employees, particularly those who live paycheck to paycheck, this statute provides critical protection helping to preserve employees’ ability to timely pay essential expenses. In turn, Massachusetts employers need to comply with the strict requirements to pay employees on time and should be aware of the applicable penalties for non-payment even if an employer makes a “good faith” mistake. A salient feature of the Massachusetts Wage Act is the mandatory penalty imposed on employers for a violation of the Wage Act, which generally mandates that employers which …

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