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Archive for April, 2014

Bennett and Belfort, P.C. Partner, Todd Bennett, Speaks at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Annual Labor and Employment Spring Conference

Posted on: April 29th, 2014 by admin

On April 24, 2014, the Massachusetts Bar Association welcomed Bennett & Belfort, P.C. partner, Todd Bennett, to the faculty of its 35th Annual Labor and Employment Law Spring Conference.

Todd Bennett Jeffrey Dretler

Joined by his colleague, Jeffrey Dretler, of Fisher & Phillips, LLP, Todd and Jeff led the dynamic presentation on “Drafting and Negotiating Settlement and Severance Agreements.”

Drawing on their extensive knowledge of employment issues, Todd and Jeff presented both the employer’s and the employee’s perspective of how to best negotiate and draft severance and settlement agreements.  This practical skills seminar shed light on critical issues, including:

  • Negotiation strategies;
  • The nature and categorization of payments (wages, emotional distress, attorneys fees);
  • Awareness of the tax treatment of different payments;
  • Non-monetary benefits, such as confidentiality, non-disparagement, references, liquidated damages, no-rehire provisions, enforcement provisions and cooperation with government entities.

The conference highlighted developments in the fields of labor and employment law, which also included a keynote address by the Honorable Nancy Gertner (ret.).  Todd and Jeff’s discussion regarding Settlement and Severance Agreements was an integral part of the conference.

35h Annual Labor and Employment Law Spring Conference

Attorney Belfort Co-Presents “Employment Law for Lawyers”

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by admin

photo (2)On March 26, 2014, Bennett & Belfort partner David Belfort teamed up with his colleague Catherine Reuben of Hirsch Roberts Weinstein to present a seminar on Employment Law for Lawyers at the Massachusetts Bar Association.  Geared to the sole or small firm practitioner or firm administrator, this program delivered practical advice and insights on a variety of work related issues faced by lawyers in their roles as employers.

Regardless of the area of legal practice, as law firms seek to properly manage their workforce and add lawyers, paralegals and other support staff, proactive personnel management becomes crucial.  Lawyers often spend increasing amounts of time managing internal employee issues rather than engaged in the practice of law – and are advised to tread carefully, seeking the advice of outside employment counsel when necessary, in the ever changing discipline of employment law.

Attorneys Belfort and Reuben led an interactive seminar that included discussion on the following issues:

Salary and overtime regulations,
Contracting temporary employees,
Legal (and illegal) interview questions,
“Must have” policies for personnel manuals,
Fair benefit and time-off practices, and
Absenteeism and leaves of absence.

In addition, participants examined how to treat employees properly when faced with poor performance or on the way out – and minimizing law firm exposure in discipline and termination based claims.

This valuable program is available through the Massachusetts Bar Association “MBA On Demand” service at: http://www.massbar.org/cle/mba-on-demand?p=3397

 

 

 

 

 

Can Employees Be Fired for Using Medical Marijuana?

Posted on: April 10th, 2014 by admin

Will employees who suffer from debilitating conditions be forced to choose between receiving prescribed medical treatment and keeping their jobs?

wwa_MikeBennett & Belfort partner Michael L. Mason posed this question in a full-page opinion article in the March 31st issue of Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly.  Mr. Mason provided an in-depth discussion of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act as it relates to employment law in the Commonwealth.

There are several features of Massachusetts law which set it apart from statutes in other states. While other medical marijuana laws have been interpreted as making limited exceptions to criminal law, the Massachusetts law is more broad and provides that “any person meeting the requirements under this law shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.”  In addition, employees who are terminated due to off-site use of a medication prescribed to treat their disability are protected under the Massachusetts anti-discrimination in employment statute.

Massachusetts law is also distinct in the extent to which it enforces privacy rights, limiting an employer’s right to test for off-site drug use. The Commonwealth’s privacy act can provide a mechanism for employees who have been terminated for use of medical marijuana to contest their termination in situations where off-site, private use of medical marijuana does not impact workplace safety.

Of course, there are still reasons why employers may be justified in terminating employees for using marijuana, but, overall, Mr. Mason finds that medical marijuana users have reason to be optimistic that they may not have to choose between receiving treatment and keeping their jobs – at least in Massachusetts.

Click here to read the full, pre-publication article: Can Employees Be Fired for Using Medical Marijuana

Find Attorney Mason’s article on the Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly Website at:  http://masslawyersweekly.com/2014/03/27/can-employees-be-fired-for-using-medical-marijuana/