News

Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Partners Present at the 67th IFEBP Annual Conference in Denver

 

Attorneys Katherine Hesse and Nan ONeill, both Partners at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, presented at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) 67th Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado last week. Their presentation, titled “Elimination of Bias – DEI”, primarily focused on discrimination in the workplace and what to do to prevent that from happening. They began their session by outlining typical DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) litigation that arises in the workplace. Examples of lawsuits included Tesla and Chicago Meat Authority, in both cases, the companies were sued for racially hostile work environments and failing to prevent racial harassment. They also discussed how to prevent these claims from occurring, such as anti-discrimination and harassment policies and staff training. Ms. Hesse and Ms. ONeill explained the importance of immediate responses and thorough investigations once a claim has been made. Their key takeaway from this session is “Words Matter”, and remember that the simplest of words can create a racially hostile work environment.

 

Ms. Hesse practices primarily in labor, employment and employee benefits law. She serves as counsel to Fortune 500 companies, emerging businesses, government, tax-exempt organizations and large Taft-Hartley and governmental trusts. She advises clients on employment and benefits issues, and has litigated employment and benefits cases before state and federal trial and appellate courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators. Ms. Hesse led her team of attorneys to be named the only firm in New England and one of only 11 in the United States to the special ERISA fiduciary litigation panel for one of the world’s largest insurance companies. She serves on the Board of Directors of the International Foundation and as Chair of its Government Liaison Committee, and sits on the editorial board of Benefits Quarterly and speaks and writes regularly on employment and benefits issues. Ms. Hesse, a CEBS Compliant ISCEBS Fellow, was inducted into the new ISCEBS Hall of Fame in 2018. She received her B.A. degree from Smith College and her J.D. degree from the Boston University School of Law.

 

Ms. ONeill is a Partner at the firm with 30 years of experience counseling and representing employers in all aspects of traditional labor law and employment.  She has extensive experience in labor arbitration and litigation of employment-related disputes, including discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination matters, before state and federal courts and administrative agencies such as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. She also counsels clients on a day-to-day basis on employment compliance issues. Additionally, Ms. ONeill frequently conducts manager training sessions on topical legal issues, and is often called upon to conduct internal investigations including complaints of harassment, discrimination, and ethical violations. Ms. ONeill is a graduate of Boston College and the Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as Articles and Notes Editor of the American Criminal Law Review.

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  Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, Partner Katherine Hesse gave a plenary presentation on Recent Developments in ERISA on Friday September 16 to members of the Group Legal Services Association (“GLSA”) at its annual meeting in New Orleans.  Among the topics she emphasized were what employers/plan sponsors need to know in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and lessons from the Court’s decision in Hughes and other class action litigation as to factors to consider Read More

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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