Updates

Updates

Guidance on Expanded Mixed Drink Take-out/Delivery Options in Response to COVID-19

On July 20, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker signed “An Act to Expand Take-out/Delivery Options in Response to COVID-19 (“Act”)” into law. The Act is an emergency measure intended to address significant disruptions to the restaurant industry in the Commonwealth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act temporarily allows establishments that are currently licensed by Massachusetts law to sell all alcoholic beverages to be consumed on-premises to sell mixed drinks for off-premises consumption, subject to restrictions, effective July 20, 2020. The Act will remain in effect until the Governor’s state of emergency is lifted or on February 28, 2021, whichever occurs earliest. An all alcohol license is required; this temporary authorization does not extend to establishments with only wine and malt beverages licenses.

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Education Alert

On May 6, 2020, the United States Department of Education (“DOE”) issued final regulations for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”). Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. The new regulations go into effect on August 14, 2020, so school districts are encouraged to review their policies and procedures and provide staff training on these new regulations as soon as possible. The final regulations list specific elements that must be included in any policy, such as range of disciplinary actions, standards of evidence, and procedures.

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Bill No. 4820 to Expand Vote by Mail and Early Voting:

On July 6, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker signed “An Act Relative to Voting Options in Response to COVID-19 (“Act”)” into law. The Act contains several important amendments to the Massachusetts Elections Law, M.G.L. c. 54 and applies to all federal, state and local elections through the end of 2020. The Act, designed to make voting more convenient and reduce crowding at the polls, affords all Massachusetts voters the option to vote by mail and extends the time allowed for early in-person voting.

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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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Latest News

Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Partner Presents on Manifestation Determination

  The MCLE (Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education) sponsored an eLecture where Mary Ellen Sowyrda, a partner with Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, presented. Alongside Ms. Sowyrda was Daniel Ahearn, Esq., and Marlies Spanjaard from the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school authorities are required to conduct Manifestation Determination when it comes to discipling a student with disabilities. Their presentation, titled “How to Handle Manifestation Determination Reviews for Students with Disabilities”, focused Read More

Legal Updates

The American Rescue Plan Act’s Aid Allocations to State, Local Governments, and Schools

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) which provides for a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package. State and local governments, and also many educational entities, will receive substantial funding. Having endured the last year of the global COVID-19 pandemic, both states and local governments, as well as schools, have experienced unexpected expenses, losses in revenues, and budgetary burdens. The purpose of this Client Alert is to explain generally how funds from the ARPA relief aid have been designated to alleviate those COVID-19-related challenges.

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