The DH Benchmark: Winter 2009

Inside this issue:

Under the Limbo Stick—How Low Can You Go?

By Sarah K. Willey, Esq.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) has been amended. The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 takes effect January 1, 2009 and dramatically lowers the threshold for determining whether an employee is disabled. The ADA applies to employers with at least 15 employees.

General Contractor Held Liable for Harassment Directed at Non- Employee on Job Site

In a case of first impression, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has held a general contractor liable for failure to remedy a racially hostile work environment which caused an employee of a specialty subcontractor to walk off the job. Liability was found under G.L. c. 151 B §4 (4A) which makes it unlawful for any person to “coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with another person” in the exercise or enjoyment of rights granted under the state antidiscrimination act. The case is Thomas O’Connor Constructors, Inc. v. Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, 72 Mass. App. Ct. 549 (2008).

Massachusetts Court Rules Gender Discrimination Law Applies to Businesses with Fewer than Six Employees

By Douglas M. Marrano, Esq.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently issued a decision in a case challenging a former employee’s right to sue her old company for gender discrimination despite a prohibition on such claims against businesses with fewer than six employees.

How Can Employers Save Money on Health Insurance?

By Joseph Russo, CEBS, LIA
HUB International New England, LLC

Saving money on health insurance is never easy, particularly in today’s economy. Given the price of gas and modest increases in salaries, employers are at a crucial point where they cannot continue to pass along health insurance increases to employees.

“Rank-And-File” Employee Not Subject to Fiduciary Duty Rule, Says Federal Court

Interpreting Massachusetts law, the Federal District Court in Boston has ruled that a breach of fiduciary duty claim cannot stand against a so-called “rank-and-file” employee. The ruling was made in the context of a suit brought against an ex-employee. The employee had signed a restrictive covenant prohibiting him from accepting certain employment for a period of 12 months after he stopped working for his old company. The job he took with a new employer violated the covenant at issue. The former employee was an IT systems administrator who left his old company and immediately began working for a competing business. There was no allegation that in doing so the former employee had absconded with confidential or proprietary information of his ex-employer, or had somehow conveyed the same to his new employer.

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