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.
Attorney Felicia Vasudevan, a partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, received a favorable decision on behalf of her client, Marshfield Public Schools. The Plaintiff appealed the district court’s judgement that upheld a decision of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”). However, as the notice was filed more than 30 days after entry, the First Circuit ultimately dismissed the appeal for being untimely. The Plaintiff also appealed the district court’s order, denying her motion to vacate. Read More
Following our Alert from March 16, 2023, Civility is Dead – The Supreme Court Rules Municipal Control of Public Speak Limited to Reasonable Time/Place/Manner Restrictions, which discussed the holding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284), we promised to bring you more detailed guidance on developing a Public Speak policy for your public body or municipality. The Barron case involved a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s public comment policy, which attempted to impose a code of civility on members of the public who participated in public comment before public bodies. In Barron, the court interpreted the state constitution to mean that public bodies may request, but not require, that public commentators be respectful and courteous. Instead, a public body may set restrictions on reasonable time, place, and manner comments to ensure that the meeting retains an orderly and peaceable manner.