News

Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane Partner was Special Guest Panelist at Quincy Chamber Town Hall

 

Nan ONeill from Murphy, Hesse, Toomey &Lehane, LLP, presented for the Quincy Chamber Town Hall on the topic of bringing employees back to work in Massachusetts on Thursday, May 21, 2020. The Quincy Chamber Town Hall was co-hosted with the Neponset River Chamber. Nan was joined by co-panelists Margaret Laforest, Regional Director, Massachusetts Office of Business Development, and Norman Eng, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

Nan focused on the legal environment surrounding reopening Massachusetts, pointing out the legal requirements all employers must comply with, as laid out in Governor Baker’s Four-Phase approach. Nan also emphasized that the MA legal requirements cannot be considered in isolation, and as businesses bring their employees back to work, they must consider OSHA requirements to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace; and EEOC return to work protocols which emphasize the continuing duty to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities in the COVID-19 context, permissible health inquiries and employee testing, and anti-harassment prohibitions protecting workers from discriminatory behavior because of their nation origin, race, age or disability. Nan also discussed the leave entitlements returning employees may have under the FFCRA. She concluded with a discussion of the tension created by the enhanced unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act and employer efforts to bring employees back to work. The bottom line is that employers cannot think of any of these issues in isolation. As employers comply with the MA mandates, they can incorporate requirements for creating a safe workplace, maintaining a harassment-free workplace, and other regulatory provisions, into employee communications and required employee training.

 

Nan and the MHTL team will continue to keep businesses updated on the return to work legal developments as they unfold on both the local and national levels.

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Legal Updates

MARIJUANA REFORM BILL BECOMES LAW

On August 12, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed S. 3096, “An act relative to equity in the cannabis industry,” (“Act”) into law. The Act reforms Massachusetts’s existing marijuana laws, particularly with respect to host community agreements (“HCAs”), community impact fees (“CIFs”), and social consumption sites (e.g. marijuana cafes). The Act empowers the Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”), the state regulatory agency, to exert greater control over HCAs and their CIFs. Municipalities levy CIFs on cannabis businesses to account for the costs they impose on the municipality as a result of their operations. Additionally, the Act allows municipalities to permit on-premises social consumption of marijuana at designated sites. Other notable provisions of the Act include the new Social Equity Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”), changes to the tax law regarding cannabis businesses, and various provisions concerning those persons and communities most impacted by the prior illegality of marijuana usage and sale. Governor Baker vetoed only one section of the final bill: the provision calling on the state to conduct a study of medical marijuana usage in schools.

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