How Massachusetts’ New Equal Pay Law Impacts Employers

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On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history before making a formal job offer that includes compensation. Under the new law, employers may not seek information about an applicant’s salary history from the applicant or his or her current or former employer unless the applicant voluntarily discloses such information or gives the prospective employer written authorization to obtain such information after an offer of employment with compensation terms has been made. Continue reading this entry

Increased OSHA Penalty Structure Becomes Effective Today

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This past November, Congress passed a budget that included legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. In response, the Department of Labor (DOL) is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The new civil penalty structure for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations go into effect today, August 1, 2016. This is the first time since 1990 that OSHA has raised penalties for violations. Continue reading this entry

Governor Kasich Legalizes Marijuana After Boy Band Member Could Not

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In case you missed it, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill last month making Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. This change in the law (effective September 8, 2016) comes following a failed Ohio ballot initiative in November 2015 to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, backed by celebrity investors such as 98 Degrees front man Nick Lachey and NBA legend Oscar Robertson. And unlike many other marijuana laws that have created a haze as to their application, the Ohio bill creates no such fog. Continue reading this entry

You Cannot Create A Restrictive Covenant Out of Thin Air

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I recently read a lengthy, and I have to admit, well-crafted letter by one employer (who I will call Company A) accusing a former executive (Mr. B) of violating every conceivable restriction relating to recruiting employees from Company A. Mr. B had left Company A and remained in touch with his old colleagues. In fact, in his former life Mr. B had recruited many of them to work for Company A. Now Company A’s counsel accused Mr. B of unspecified violations of law because he had specialized knowledge of the employees’ compensation, capabilities, career interests and ambitions, and knew the impact on Company A if the employees – one or all – left to accept employment with the company where Mr. B now worked. The letter was so well crafted that upon first glance it appeared both Mr. B and his new company were deep in trouble.

Or were they? Continue reading this entry

Does Your Severance Trigger ERISA? Why You Should Care and What You Should Do

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Generally speaking, many employers do not think about the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) when it comes to severance, whether at the front end, when employment agreements or policies are negotiated and planned, or at the back end, when termination occurs and the severance is paid. However, a recent case from a trial court in Pennsylvania serves as an important reminder about when ERISA is triggered and why employers should care. Continue reading this entry