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"Emily, a chief partner, and the two other lawyers at SLN Law who worked on my case were extremely competent and approachable. They were responsive to inquiries and they thoughtfully explained, as needed, complex legal terms. I was very well represented at each stage of a protracted legal case against a major national firm." Brian R.
"Emily is an incredible resource of knowledge on employment law. She helped guide us on how to structure our employee classifications and made adjustments to our consulting agreements so our business is better protected and positioned. She's both law-savvy and business minded - great asset to have when launching/growing a business." Diana B.
"SLN represented me in a complicated employment-related dispute. What could have been a prolonged nightmare for me was handled swiftly and skillfully, and with fairness and dignity." Smita N.
"Long overdue public words of gratitude for Emily and her associates' work on my behalf. They were so very respectful of me during an emotionally and financially ridden time -- and that mattered more than the positive result. May all clients have such advocates on their sides!" Donna B.
"Emily Smith Lee handled my age discrimination case against my former employer. She was thorough and professional throughout the whole legal process. Due to her knowledge and efforts we came to an out of court financial settlement with a victory. I would highly recommend Emily to anyone as an extremely competent attorney." Mark B.
"After more than a year of discrimination and harassment in my previous position at a teaching hospital, I was finally at the point when I knew I needed help, otherwise I could break. Thus, I started to search Massachusetts Employment regulations, and one of my Google searches brought me to an advertisement for Emily E. Smith-Lee’s book “Rules of the Road. What You Need to Know About Employment Laws in Massachusetts.” It was my lucky day, and the start of my road out of the continued misery in my workplace... I would like sincerely to thank them both for their excellent job, and emotional support and encouragement. If you feel harassed, bullied, or discriminated against, Emily and Jack are the ones who will go out of their way to help you." Valentina W.
Your Resource for Employment Law Solutions
Masschusetts Employment Law
A job is where you spend most of your time. For many employers, workers are where you spend most of your money. You depend on each other. Yet so many things can go wrong in an employment relationship.
Massachusetts labor and employment laws set out the rules of the game. It is important for both employees and business owners to understand these rules.
We know what this looks like from both perspectives. We have helped people protect their rights under the Massachusetts Wage Act, the state and federal anti-discrimination laws, non-compete agreements, and the Massachusetts Independent Contractor law.
We have also helped many small business owners avoid costly lawsuits by getting things right in the first place. Below is a summary of the major issues our clients have faced.
Both Massachusetts and federal law protect employees in certain protected classes from employment discrimination. It is unlawful for an employer to make a hiring, firing or disciplinary decision based on an employee's membership in a protected class. Protected classes under federal and state law include race, national origin, gender, disability, pregnancy and age. Massachusetts law also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In addition to the discrimination laws, both federal and state law prohibit pay differences based on an employee's gender. Read more about the equal pay laws here.
Discrimination laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has been an issue since long before the #metoo movement. It can be devastating to the victim and also a challenge to employers to understand how to prevent and address sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur when a manager or supervisor makes unwanted sexual advances. It can also occur when people in the workplace are behaving inappropriately and creating a hostile work environment. It is important for employees to know how to recognize harassment when it happens. It is equally important for employers to know how to respond appropriately if an issue is raised.
Wage and Hour Laws
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Massachusetts law require employers to pay workers appropriately. This includes minimum wages, overtime pay, and prompt payment on termination. Massachusetts wage and hour laws also require earned sick time, which must be paid if the business has 11 or more employees.
All wages, including commissions, must be paid timely under the Massachusetts Wage Act.
The Massachusetts minimum wage is higher than the federal wage. For 2020, the Massachusetts minimum wage is $12.75 per hour. This rate will gradually increase until it reaches $15.00 per hour in 2023.
Any worker not exempt from overtime laws must be paid at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in a work week.
Employees working shifts of six hours or longer are also entitled to meal breaks and rest breaks.
Employers should be aware that even an innocent mistake under these laws can have serious consequences. Your liability can include three times the employee's proven damages, as well as the employee's attorneys fees and expenses.
Non Compete Agreements
Employees are frequently asked to sign non compete agreements. These agreements can seriously limit your options when you change jobs. There is a new law in Massachusetts that affects any non compete signed on or after October 1, 2018. This law limits the circumstances under which a non compete is enforceable. Even if your agreement is older than that, there are defenses to enforcement available to you. We have helped hundreds of people assessing new non competes and dealing with disputes over existing non competes, and offer a same or next day turnaround review of your new agreement at a flat rate.
The Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law
Many employers do not understand how few people can be treated as independent contractors under Massachusetts employment law. This means many employees are improperly treated as independent contractors rather than W-2 employees. This can have significant consequences for both the employer and the employee. Specifically, if an employer improperly treats an employee as an independent contractor, they can be liable for three times the employee's proven damages. The wage and hour laws also require that the employer pay the employee's attorneys fees and costs.
Employment Termination and Severance Agreements
Being fired or laid off can be a scary experience. If you are offered a severance package your head may still be spinning from the news, and you likely have a limited period of time to consider the agreement. On the one hand, whatever money they are offering may seem like a lifeline as you start to think about unemployment. On the other hand, you may be giving up the right to pursue a valid wrongful termination claim. Read more about our severance agreement review services here.
How We Can Help
We can help you assess your employment situation and get clarity on your rights and obligations. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, give us a call at 781-784-2322, or fill out our web form to let us know a little more about your situation.