Big Changes Ahead for Overtime Exempt Employees

Big Changes Ahead for Overtime Exempt (Salaried) Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was a revolutionary act established during the “New Deal” phase of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The act established, for the first time, minimum wage requirements, overtime laws and created the standard work week for all Americans. Over time additional requirements have been added creating the current federal standards for employment pay in the United States.

Most recently, President Obama directed the Department of Labor to update some of these regulations. Included in this directive was a request to increase the compensation for executive, administrative, and professional (“EAP”) employees, often called overtime exempt or salaried employees. Prior to this directive, the last increase to the minimum requirement for the base salary of these EAP employees occurred in 2004 and required that EAP employees be paid a minimum of $455.00 per week or $23,660.00 annually.

As one could imagine, this regulatory scheme was quite beneficial to employers, as those employees who satisfy the “duties test” (the test designed to indicate whether an employee constituted an executive, administrative, or professional employee) were exempt from being paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours so long as they were provided with compensation equal to or greater than $23,660.00 annually. This is no longer the case however; as the Department of Labor’s new regulations will substantially increase this amount to more than double the current level.

The final rule promulgated by the Department of Labor calls for the following changes to the current FSLA:

1. Sets the new standard salary compensation at the 40th percentile of the salary of full-time employees in the lowest wage census region. Currently the lowest wage census region is the […]

  • Child Custody, Paternity, Support, Massachusetts
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    When there’s love and a baby carriage, but no marriage: how an attorney can assist an unmarried parent in establishing paternity, custody, and child support.

When there’s love and a baby carriage, but no marriage: how an attorney can assist an unmarried parent in establishing paternity, custody, and child support.

When there’s love and a baby carriage, but no marriage
How an attorney can assist an unmarried parent in establishing paternity, custody, and child support.
Families come in all shapes and sizes but when the parents of a child are not married parental rights are different than they are for married couples who separate after the birth of their children. There are a great many factors to consider in these circumstances including the legal implications and the legal options that may be available to you.

In Massachusetts, the mother has “presumed” legal and physical custody of a child from a non-marital relationship. Presumed means that the mother has custody until the Court is shown otherwise. In other words, this custody can be challenged when the father asserts his rights in Court. That doesn’t mean that suddenly the father has custody because he files a complaint. It means that the Court will then decide custody based on the best interest of the child using a variety of factors. Such factors could include the parents’ backgrounds, support systems, and geography as well as a parent’s relationship with the child.
Navigating the Courts
It’s important to note that the Courts encourage parents to work together and coordinate a resolution that works for their family. When that doesn’t happen, there are various ways to obtain custody, parenting time and child support through the Court. Our office can assist you in navigating the Courts in this process and determining what options are available to you to ensure that your rights are protected.
Choose An Experienced Family Law Attorney
At Cohen Cleary, P.C. we have extensive experience representing clients in Family Law matters involving paternity, custody, and child support. We will advocate on your behalf to ensure […]

When is an Employer Required to Pay the Prevailing Wage Rate?

When is an Employer Required to Pay the Prevailing Wage Rate?

The Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law sets the minimum wage that an employer must pay its employees on public works projects. The Prevailing Wage Law allows the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development to set the rates for each type of occupation that an employer must compensate its employees. These rates change year to year, and are different for different projects in different counties. The employer must compensate its employees with at least the rate set by the Secretary.
Jobs that fall under the Prevailing Wage Law
Different employees are entitled to be compensated under the Prevailing Wage Law. If you work on public construction projects, school bus transportation, operation of vehicles and equipment used by public entities for public workers purposes, janitorial services for state buildings, office moving services, and certain work for the housing authority your employer may be required to compensate you at the prevailing wage for your job classification. Regardless of union status, the employer must comply especially on any project where the government funds the project for $2,000.00 or more, or it is a municipal contract. The employer, typically a contractor or a subcontractor, must comply with law or face substantial fines for its noncompliance. Employees who are not properly compensated have the possibility to recover substantial damages as if the proper procedures are followed, employers may have to pay triple damages to the employee for failure to pay the proper wages timely.
Are you properly compensated?
If you believe that you are entitled to compensation at the prevailing wage and your employer is failing to properly compensate you, it is in your best interest to retain an attorney with […]

Child Support law in Massachusetts

Why it is important to hire a lawyer who understands Child Support law in Massachusetts
It is important to understand what your rights and financial obligations are to your children. Our office can assist you in navigating the Courts in this process and determining what options are available to you. To help you consider this important issue we have summarized some information that is helpful to consider.

When a child has parents who are unmarried or separated, it’s important that the child’s life be financially impacted as little as possible. Child support was established to help equalize the environments that impact a child whose parents are no longer a couple. The purpose of child support is to help provide food, clothing and shelter for the child no matter where the child lives and is determined primarily through the “Massachusetts Child Support Guideline” calculations. The calculation is based on the gross or pre-tax income of each party and only medical insurance costs, child care costs and child support obligations to another child are allowed to be deducted from that gross total. Taxes, rent/mortgage, car payments, and other financial liabilities are not factored in at the time of the initial calculation.

A variety of financial factors are taken into consideration the official child support guidelines are utilized by the Court in issuing an order of child support. That being said, there are circumstances that may allow for a deviation from the child support guideline calculation as well as the possibility or the parties working to reach an agreement on child support that deviates from the child support guidelines. This deviation could mean seeking to receive a greater child support payment than is listed in the guidelines or working to […]

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractors Act

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractors Act
Spring is here, and with it comes that familiar sound of construction. After the last snow has melted away homeowners across the Commonwealth come out of hibernation. Some will want to repair damage done by the winter weather, while others may decide that their home and property could use some revamping. No matter the reason, spring and summer are the months where many homeowners will engage the services of a contractor to perform services on their home.

Before engaging the services of a contractor it is important for a homeowner to do their homework. Researching a contractor before hiring the contractor is an obvious step, but one that is often overlooked by the homeowner. The Commonwealth provides a database for homeowners to lookup their chosen contractor to confirm that they are registered with the state. After choosing the contractor, the homeowner must then decide what the scope of the work is to be performed. At this point a contact is usually drawn up and the parties make agreements as to the work performed and the cost of these services.

Massachusetts has enacted a statute aimed to protect the homeowner from unscrupulous contractors. The Home Improvement Contractors Act regulates how a contractor performs their service.  The act applies to all contractors who perform services related to “reconstruction, alteration, renovation, repair, modernization, conversion, improvement, removal, demolition, or construction of an addition…” of a pre-existing owner occupied building, which contains 1 to 4 units. The act also applies to any structure adjacent to a pre-existing owner occupied building.

In addition to specifying the types of activities that the act regulates, the act also spells out with specificity the language and notices that must appear in […]

Can I Seal my Criminal Record in Massachusetts?

Can I Seal my Criminal Record in Massachusetts?

Are Criminal Charges Following You?
You have been in trouble with the law many years ago, but that criminal record has been following your around for years. Can you seal your criminal record? In Massachusetts it is possible to seal criminal charges on your record. If your criminal record has lead to difficulty in finding employment or housing you have the option to petition the courts or the Office of the Commissioner of Probation. Depending on the outcome of your criminal case you may need to only petition the court, however, in other circumstances you will need to petition the Office of the Commissioner of Probation. It is important to keep in mind that even a case that was dismissed or where you were found Not Guilty can still have an impact in your life when an employer, school, or housing official looks at your criminal record.
Hire an Attorney to Seal Records
Hiring an Attorney that can determine where you need to file your petition to seal, and what documentation needs to be submitted will help to significantly increase your chances of having your criminal record successfully sealed. If you petition the court, your Attorney can determine what court your petition needs to be filed in, and can represent you at the multiple hearings that take place before your petition can be allowed.
Experience Matters
At Cohen Cleary, P.C., we have experience in working with clients to seal records. Having a criminal record that is years old can still have a detrimental effect on your career, educational prospects, and can even prevent you from attending events with your child’s school. Hiring an attorney that knows the rules and procedures for sealing […]

By |April 22nd, 2016|Seal Record|0 Comments|

Retaliated Against for Making an OSHA Complaint?

Retaliated Against for Making an OSHA Complaint?
Have you ever been placed in an uncomfortable position by your employer due to their unlawful safety practices? Perhaps you made a complaint to your supervisor, the owner of company, or Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) office regarding these concerns. If your complaint contributed to, or was a motivating factor for your employer to take adverse employment actions against you, then you are protected from these retaliatory actions as you are deemed to be a “whistleblower.”

Common forms of retaliation include but are not limited: demotion; denying overtime or promotions; denying benefits; reduction in pay or hours; reassignment to a less desirable position; suspension; and termination. An employee has a very narrow window to submit a complaint for whistleblower retaliation (30 days) as such; if you have been subject to an adverse employment action by your employer it is important that you seek help and legal advice as soon as possible.

Filing a retaliation claim against an employer who retaliated against you for engaging in a protected activity is the first step to restoring your employment and being compensated for your lost wages. If you’re unsure of whether or not your complaint qualifies you for protection below is a list of the 10 most frequently cited workplace violations for 2015:

Fall Protection
Hazard Communication
Respiratory Protection
Lockout/ Tagout
Powered Industrial Trucks
Electrical – Wiring Methods
Machine Guarding;
Electrical – General Requirements

If you or someone you know has been a victim of retaliation for being a whistleblower, contact our office in Raynham or Plymouth, MA at (508) 880-6677 for a free consultation regarding your possible rights and remedies.

Authored by Attorney Eric Langfield, an associate at Cohen Cleary, P.C. in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Served with a Restraining Order?

What do I do when I am served with a Restraining Order?

The police knock on your door and hand you a document stating that an Abuse and Prevention Order (also known as a Restraining Order) has been issued against you. You are required to follow the terms of the order and a failure to do so could result in criminal charges.

The Restraining Order may require that you not only stay away from a family member or intimate partner, but may also prevent you from being allowed to make any contact whatsoever with the individual who requested the Restraining Order. How did this happen? In order to obtain a Restraining Order, the alleged victim completed an application and an affidavit alleging that that he/she is in fear of imminent physical danger from you. A case was presented to the Judge, and the Judge agreed, issuing the temporary Restraining Order. On the document you are served, there is a hearing date and it is important that you attend that hearing. This is your opportunity to present your side to Judge. Depending on the accusations, you may need to bring witnesses and evidence to support your case. A Restraining Order can have an impact on more than just your ability to be near a certain person. It can effect custody of your children, where you can live, your ability to have firearms, your residency, your employment, as well as your reputation.

An attorney can help you decipher the orders and possibly determine the next steps you need to take. These steps can include fighting the Restraining Order or seeking to change or modify the terms of the Restraining Order. If you have been served with a restraining […]

Should I sign a severance agreement?

Should I sign a severance agreement?
“All good things must come to an end”
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote that “all good things must come to an end.” Even the most harmonious employment relationships will reach an inevitable conclusion whether due to retirement, relocation, business decisions or a mutual agreement to part ways. In some of these situations the employer may offer an employee a severance agreement or package.

A severance agreement is a legally enforceable contract between an employee and an employer.  This agreement usually grants the employee certain benefits, whether it is pay for a specific period of time, the continuation of health benefits or other terms that can be negotiated. Employers, however, do not often give severance agreements out of the kindness of their hearts but rather do so to protect the employer from any claims that the employee may have against the employer. The agreement may also contain non-compete and/or non-solicitation provisions that can have a profound impact after the employment relationship has ended.

If you receive a severance offer, it is inadvisable to think that the employer is magnanimous and to sign the document without the legal guidance to ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions contained within that document. A severance will often give the employee continued salary for a short specified period in exchange for the signing of a release that forever releases the employer from claims that may have occurred during the employee’s employment. The questions that often arise in these situations are whether the employer is offering a good deal? Is the severance adequate for the rights that the employee is giving up? What are the rights that the employee is giving up? What are the employee’s obligations after […]

By |February 22nd, 2016|Employment law|1 Comment|

Should I Get A Restraining Order

Should I get a Restraining Order?
Restraining Orders are often referred to as “Abuse Prevention Orders” in the Courts and are effective tools that can be used to provide a level of protection to someone who is in fear of imminent danger of physical harm from a family member or intimate partner. When a Restraining Order is issued against someone, that person must abide by the rules set forth in the Order or possibly suffer criminal consequences to their actions. In order to obtain a Abuse Prevention Order, you must go to either your local Probate and Family Court or District Court and complete an application and an affidavit and attend at least one hearing. If you are in an abusive relationship, the Restraining Order is an important tool in obtaining your safety. There are certain circumstances where you may be able to obtain an Restraining Order on behalf of a third party such as your children.

Restraining Orders can prohibit a Defendant from being within a certain number of feet from a victim, prohibit access to places like schools or employment, prohibit any contact via third parties, and, at times, even prohibit contact with the parties’ children. It is important to consider all the issues as well as the pros and cons prior to seeking a Restraining Order.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal assistance call us today at (508) 880-6677 for a consultation with an experienced Restraining Order attorney.

Our law firm is centrally located in Raynham and Plymouth MA and serves all of Eastern Massachusetts.

By Janna K. Saad, Esq