Updates

Updates

Expansion of Federal Protections for LGBT Workers

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a historic 6-3 decision authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, in which the Court held that employers cannot discriminate against an individual on the basis of the individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This case, Bostock v. Clayton County, was a consolidation of three cases, involving two gay men, who were terminated based on their sexual orientation, and one transgender woman, who was terminated based on her gender identity.

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Workers’ Compensation Claims and COVID-19

The coronavirus and its effects are likely to have an impact on workers’ compensation claims. Two of the most common questions that have been raised regarding COVID-19 and workers’ compensation are addressed below, including compensation for employees who contract COVID-19 at work and employees who are injured while working from home.

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Bargaining and Protected Concerted Activities in the Time of COVID-19: Guidance and Lessons for Employers

The recent need to make difficult and sometimes time-sensitive decisions during the pandemic has raised the question of bargaining and other obligations under federal and state labor law. Whether or not you have a unionized workforce, the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or the “Act”) for covered private sector employers and Massachusetts state law, M.G.L. c. 150E, for public sector employers in Massachusetts, protects employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activities. Moreover, for those employers with organized workforces, employers are generally obligated to bargain before making changes to employees’ wages, hours, working conditions, or other mandatory subjects of bargaining. Failure to do so may constitute an unlawful unilateral change and result in a finding that the employer committed an unfair labor practice.

This client alert highlights the law’s provisions addressing permits, permit applications, and public hearings. The law defines “permit” broadly to include permits, variances, special permits, licenses, amendments, extensions, and other approvals by a permit granting authority. A “permit granting authority” is also defined broadly to include any local, district, county, or regional official or multi-member body authorized to issue a permit.

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Omnibus Municipal Relief Law – Part II: Permits, Applications, and Public Hearings

On Friday, April 3, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19, which was codified at Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 (the “Act”). The Act addresses a number of issues faced by municipalities resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including the implications for town meetings, town budgets, taxes, sale of alcoholic beverages, and multi-member body permits.

This client alert highlights the law’s provisions addressing permits, permit applications, and public hearings. The law defines “permit” broadly to include permits, variances, special permits, licenses, amendments, extensions, and other approvals by a permit granting authority. A “permit granting authority” is also defined broadly to include any local, district, county, or regional official or multi-member body authorized to issue a permit.

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Omnibus Municipal Relief Law – Part I: Changes to Off Premises Service of Beer and Wine; Advice on Administration and Enforcement

On April 3, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 (the “Law”), a multidimensional municipal relief bill affecting a broad range of municipal concerns arising from the present COVID pandemic, and Governor Baker’s emergency orders. The legislation addresses multiple varied municipal issues ranging from postponement of Town Meetings, recalibration of the municipal budget process, and tolling of permit timelines. Among the provisions of the new law is Section 13 which significantly alters the licensing landscape for the sales and service of alcoholic beverages. As with many sections of the law, this alteration is limited to the duration of Governor Baker’s March 10, 2020 Declaration of Emergency.

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CARES ACT – $2 Trillion in Coronavirus Relief Including Expanded Unemployment Insurance

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. The massive bill provides economic relief for both workers who are laid off and businesses which have shut down or curtailed business operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The scope of the CARES Act, also known as the stimulus bill, goes far beyond worker benefits and also provides loans for small and large companies as well as multi-faceted support for America’s health care system. This client alert summarizes the expanded unemployment insurance provisions of the CARES Act which provide financial assistance to workers unable to work due to COVID-19.

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Guidance for Municipalities on Conducting Remote Public Meetings Under the Open Meeting Law and the Relaxed Remote Participation Standards

On March 12, 2020, the Governor issued an Executive Order (“Order”) suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law (“OML”), to allow expanded remote participation and alternative access to all public meetings conducted under the OML ( this excludes Town Meetings). No public body in Massachusetts has ever been authorized to conduct all remote public meetings prior to the Order, and many cities and towns shut down meetings for much of the rest of March. In the coming weeks, as local governments begin moving forward to conduct the public business, select boards, school committees, planning boards, boards of health, and all public board and commissions, will be faced with this new experience.

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Latest News

Murphy. Hesse, Toomey & Lehane Advisor, Thomas Jorling Pens the Attack on the Rule of Law

  Tom Jorling, is an attorney, advisor to MHTL, former co-drafter of the Clean Air and Water Act and former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation under Governor Mario Cuomo. Tom Jorling served under 4 presidents, including Deputy Director of the Environmental Agency. Mr. Jorling was the recipient of the inaugural Boston College Law School Public Interest Law Foundation Distinction in Public Service Award in April 2019. Thomas Jorling pens the article below on the attack of the Rule Read More

Legal Updates

Expansion of Federal Protections for LGBT Workers

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a historic 6-3 decision authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, in which the Court held that employers cannot discriminate against an individual on the basis of the individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This case, Bostock v. Clayton County, was a consolidation of three cases, involving two gay men, who were terminated based on their sexual orientation, and one transgender woman, who was terminated based on her gender identity.

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