The DH Benchmark: Summer 2008

Inside this Issue

Maternity Leave: It’s Not Just For Women Anymore

By Sarah K. Willey, Esq.

The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (“MMLA”) requires employers with six or more employees to grant full time female employees eight weeks of leave for the purposes of giving birth or adopting a child under the age of 18 (or, if physically or mentally disabled, under 23). The MMLA contains a variety of pitfalls for the unknowing. For example, the 8 weeks of leave is per birth, such that a woman giving birth to, or adopting, twins would be entitled to 16 weeks of leave. Unlike the Family Medical Leave Act, the female employee cannot be required to use accrued vacation or sick time. Further, the interaction between the MMLA, the FMLA, and the American with Disabilities Act (or its Massachusetts parallel under MGL 151B) (together, “ADA”) and the various entitlements under each, leaves many employers’ heads spinning.

New Federal Law Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Genetic Information

By Cheryl A. Waterhouse, Esq.

On May 21, 2008, President Bush signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA, which was debated in Congress for 13 years, protects individuals against discrimination based upon their genetic information in the areas of health insurance and employment. Although many states have genetic nondiscrimination laws, GINA was enacted to provide a national and uniform standard to protect the public from discrimination while encouraging genetic testing, new research, and technology. Although this new law may not necessitate changes for companies operating in states which currently have genetic non-discrimination laws, such as Massachusetts, businesses will have time to review their policies and ensure compliance with the new legislation. The group health plan provisions take effect in May 2009 and the employment provisions become effective as of November 21, 2009.

U.S. Supreme Court Revisits Retaliation Claims In Employment Context

On May 28, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States gave employees seeking to assert claims of unlawful retaliation a powerful weapon when it affirmed that a Civil War era statute—42 U.S.C. § 1981—encompasses retaliation claims related to workplace discriminatory animus. Interestingly, the statute itself does not contain the words “retaliation” or “employment.” The Court reasoned that § 1981 applies to the employer-employee relationship based upon stare decisis, or past precedent. The case is CBOCS West, Inc., v. Humphries, 553 U.S. ___ (2008).

Structuring a Merger for Architects & Engineers

By James DeLeo, CPA, MST
Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP

The level of merger activity in the architectural and engineering industry has picked up significantly in recent months, and promises to be even livelier in the coming year. If you are considering merging your firm or acquiring another, the way you structure the transaction can have far reaching consequences, particularly in the area of taxation.

E-Verify is Alive, Well, and Gaining Speed

By Gwen P. Weisberg, Esq.

E-Verify (formerly known as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program) is an internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. E-Verify allows participating employers to electronically compare employee information taken from the Form I-9 against records in SSA’s and DHS’s databases.

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