617.482.8200

Our Firm

Conn Kavanaugh is a Boston law firm that represents individuals and organizations ranging from closely held and family businesses to Fortune 100 companies. Since our founding in 1988, clients have relied on us for practical and realistic strategies to resolve legal issues quickly and effectively, both in and out of the courthouse.

Leadership

Conn Kavanaugh attorneys hold leadership positions in many community and bar organizations, publish articles and speak at continuing legal education seminars. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts appointed one of our founding partners to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (BBO), the official body that investigates and evaluates complaints against lawyers. Several other firm attorneys are hearing officers for the BBO.

Pro Bono Services

Our attorneys provide pro bono legal services in collaboration with a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Legal Food Hub, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, the Women's Bar Foundation, the Victim Rights Law Center, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Health Law Advocates and Discovering Justice.

Awards

  • 2015: Conn Kavanaugh has received a First Tier ranking in Boston for Employment Litigation by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” for 2015.
  • 2015: Four Conn Kavanaugh attorneys were listed in The Best Lawyers in America © 2015.
  • 2014: The publishers of Boston Magazine selected 16 Conn Kavanaugh attorneys as Massachusetts Super Lawyers. The publication also placed members of our team on its lists of Top 100 Massachusetts Lawyers, Top 100 New England Lawyers, Top 50 Massachusetts Women Lawyers, Top 50 New England Women Lawyers, and Massachusetts Rising Stars.
  • 2014: The American Bar Association's Tort Trial & Insurance Section honored one of our partners with the Edmund S. Muskie Pro Bono Service Award. 
  • 2013: Law & Politics selected 12 Conn Kavanaugh attorneys as Massachusetts Super Lawyers. The publication also placed members of our team on its lists of Top 100 Massachusetts Lawyers, Top 50 Massachusetts Women Lawyers, and Massachusetts Rising Stars.
  • 2013: The Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association (MDLA) honored one of our partners with the Defense Lawyer of the Year award.

Why Choose Conn Kavanaugh

Boston is home to dozens of excellent law firms. Why should you turn to Conn Kavanaugh for assistance with your legal needs?

Accessibility

Conn Kavanaugh offers a level of accessibility and responsive, attentive service that larger firms cannot match. Maintaining close contact and open communication with clients really matters here. We believe in listening to clients and advising them in specific terms to solve their legal challenges. And we aim to develop an ongoing relationship of trust and confidence with clients, becoming part of their team.

Specialized Expertise

We deliver many of the benefits you might associate with a larger firm — for example, breadth and depth of expertise. Each of our attorneys focuses on a select number of practice areas. Collectively, they give our firm the highly specialized expertise necessary to address wide-ranging client needs.

Transactional Experience

Our business attorneys have decades of experience negotiating deals for acquiring and selling companies through mergers, consolidations and asset and stock transactions. We are strong advocates and skilled negotiators. In addition, we bring considerable value to our clients in getting deals done efficiently and effectively while never losing sight of the importance of identifying and managing risk.

Litigation Experience

The Conn Kavanaugh team includes seasoned former prosecutors and a strong, deep bench of attorneys with civil and criminal trial experience, which equips us to solve complex litigation cases for clients. Some of our attorneys are fellows in the American College of Trial Lawyers, the nation's premier professional trial organization.

Cost-efficiency

One reason so many of our clients choose us is that we staff our cases leanly and charge reasonable fees. In addition, we provide practical and realistic strategies to resolve legal issues quickly and effectively, within budgetary constraints.

Please call us today at 617.482.8200 to learn more about what sets Conn Kavanaugh apart.

Search our Attorneys

    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z View All

    Business Litigation

    Our Business Litigation practice group offers the experience of seasoned lawyers who recognize the value of solving problems to promote your business success.

    Read More...

    Anthony V. Bova
    Anthony Bova
    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew Dennington
    Catherine M. DiVita
    Catherine DiVita
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    Kurt B. Fliegauf
    Kurt Fliegauf
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas Gallitano
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin Higgins
    James F. Kavanaugh, Jr.
    James Kavanaugh, Jr.
    Julie  Martin
    Julie Martin
    Mary ('Beth') E. O'Neal
    Mary ('Beth') O'Neal
    Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Kathleen O'Toole
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael Rossi
    Conor  Slattery
    Conor Slattery
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol Starkey
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher Sweeney
    Alexis P. Theriault
    Alexis Theriault
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray Wagner

    Complex Tort Defense

    Since its founding in 1988, a staple of Conn Kavanaugh’s practice has been the defense of business entities in serious and complex personal injury or property damage actions.

    Read More...

    Anthony V. Bova
    Anthony Bova
    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin Higgins
    James F. Kavanaugh, Jr.
    James Kavanaugh, Jr.
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna Matloff
    Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Kathleen O'Toole
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael Rossi
    Alexis P. Theriault
    Alexis Theriault
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray Wagner

    Construction

    Whether you are the owner, design professional, general contractor, project administrator, subcontractor, or supplier on a construction project, our Construction practice will assist you in achieving a successful project outcome.

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher Sweeney
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray Wagner

    Corporate / Transactional

    Our Corporate/Transactional practice has a broad range of skills. This versatility allows them to remain a principal point of contact with our business clients and to move freely across multiple disciplines to ensure continuity of representation.

    Read More...

    Barry E. Gold
    Barry Gold
    Gregory J. Murphy
    Gregory Murphy
    Bob B. Rosenthal
    Bob Rosenthal
    Neil R. Schauer
    Neil Schauer

    Criminal / White Collar / Regulatory

    We have extensive experience advising businesses and individuals who are the subject of criminal or regulatory investigations or proceedings.

    Read More...

    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas Gallitano
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol Starkey
    Glen A. Tagliamonte
    Glen Tagliamonte
    Kirsten Z. Young
    Kirsten Young

    Employment Litigation / Counseling

    Employers and employees alike look to Conn Kavanaugh’s employment lawyers for advice in navigating the increasingly complex web of state and federal statutes,

    Read More...

    Anthony V. Bova
    Anthony Bova
    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew Dennington
    Catherine M. DiVita
    Catherine DiVita
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas Gallitano
    Barry E. Gold
    Barry Gold
    James F. Kavanaugh, Jr.
    James Kavanaugh, Jr.
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna Matloff
    Mary ('Beth') E. O'Neal
    Mary ('Beth') O'Neal
    Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Kathleen O'Toole
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael Rossi
    Conor  Slattery
    Conor Slattery
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol Starkey
    Alexis P. Theriault
    Alexis Theriault

    Estate Planning / Administration

    Our Estate Planning attorneys help individuals and their families plan for the future and protect their assets. We handle all aspects of estate planning.

    Read More...

    George M. Ford
    George Ford
    Sheila B. Giglio
    Sheila Giglio
    Gregory J. Murphy
    Gregory Murphy
    Neil R. Schauer
    Neil Schauer
    Kirsten Z. Young
    Kirsten Young

    Family Law / Probate Litigation

    Our experienced Family Law/Probate Litigation attorneys work zealously to ensure rightful asset distributions in these emotionally charged proceedings. Our group handles a wide range of areas including prenuptial agreements, custody disputes, and post-divorce support or estate modifications.

    Read More...

    Steven O. Anderson-Garrison
    Steven Anderson-Garrison
    George M. Ford
    George Ford
    Sheila B. Giglio
    Sheila Giglio
    Laurel K.  Koes
    Laurel K. Koes
    Christina  Pashou
    Christina Pashou
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray Wagner
    Kirsten Z. Young
    Kirsten Young
    Lindsay  Zelek-Thompson
    Lindsay Zelek-Thompson

    Insurance Litigation

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Catherine M. DiVita
    Catherine DiVita
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    Kurt B. Fliegauf
    Kurt Fliegauf
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin Higgins
    James F. Kavanaugh, Jr.
    James Kavanaugh, Jr.
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna Matloff
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch

    Land Use / Real Estate Litigation

    Our Land Use/Real Estate Litigation practice has extensive experience in handling real estate disputes of all kinds and at all levels. We can develop a strategy for your dispute.

    Read More...

    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew Dennington
    George M. Ford
    George Ford
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin
    Conor  Slattery
    Conor Slattery
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher Sweeney
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray Wagner

    Mediation / Arbitration

    Having litigated hundreds of cases, the Mediation/Arbitration practice is well-equipped to effectively value cases to resolve disputes according to your needs and goals.

    Read More...

    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin

    Product Liability

    Conn Kavanaugh’s lawyers regularly represent manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in defending against product liability claims.

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin Higgins
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna Matloff
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael Rossi

    Professional Liability

    Our trial attorneys are accomplished in defending claims against attorneys, health care professionals, insurance agents and brokers, and other professionals.

    Read More...

    Anthony V. Bova
    Anthony Bova
    Russell F. Conn
    Russell Conn
    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew Dennington
    Catherine M. DiVita
    Catherine DiVita
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel Fishman
    Kurt B. Fliegauf
    Kurt Fliegauf
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas Gallitano
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin Higgins
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna Matloff
    Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Kathleen O'Toole
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas Peisch
    James B. Peloquin
    James Peloquin
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael Rossi
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol Starkey
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher Sweeney
    Glen A. Tagliamonte
    Glen Tagliamonte
    Alexis P. Theriault
    Alexis Theriault
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray Wagner

    Real Estate

    Our Real Estate practice provides skilled representation in a variety of transactions, including the financing, leasing, acquisition and disposition of commercial properties.

    Read More...

    Barry E. Gold
    Barry Gold
    Bob B. Rosenthal
    Bob Rosenthal
    Neil R. Schauer
    Neil Schauer

    Architects/Engineers

    Conn Kavanaugh has a wealth of experience advising and representing architects and engineers in many aspects of their businesses.

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell ConnPartner
    James B. Peloquin
    James PeloquinPartner
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher SweeneyAssociate
    Glen A. Tagliamonte
    Glen TagliamonteSenior Counsel

    Cannabis

    Read More...

    Anthony V. Bova
    Anthony BovaAssociate
    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew DenningtonPartner
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas GallitanoPartner
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin HigginsPartner
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna MatloffPartner
    Gregory J. Murphy
    Gregory MurphySenior Counsel
    Mary ('Beth') E. O'Neal
    Mary ('Beth') O'NealOf Counsel
    Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Kathleen O'TooleAssociate
    Bob B. Rosenthal
    Bob RosenthalPartner
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael RossiPartner
    Conor  Slattery
    Conor SlatteryAssociate
    Glen A. Tagliamonte
    Glen TagliamonteSenior Counsel
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray WagnerPartner

    Closely Held/Family Businesses

    Conn Kavanaugh’s business attorneys have a broad range of skills and are very experienced in providing legal services to family-owned and other closely-held businesses.

    Read More...

    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Barry E. Gold
    Barry GoldPartner
    Bob B. Rosenthal
    Bob RosenthalPartner
    Neil R. Schauer
    Neil SchauerPartner

    Construction

    Conn Kavanaugh has provided an array of services to private and public clients in the construction industry, including the manufacturers of building materials and systems.

    Read More...

    Kurt B. Fliegauf
    Kurt FliegaufPartner
    James B. Peloquin
    James PeloquinPartner
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher SweeneyAssociate
    Glen A. Tagliamonte
    Glen TagliamonteSenior Counsel
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray WagnerPartner

    Financial Services

    Conn Kavanaugh draws upon a wide range of disciplines to meet the needs of individual and institutional clients in the financial services industry.

    Read More...

    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew DenningtonPartner
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas GallitanoPartner
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol StarkeyPartner

    Food and Beverage

    Our decades of work in the food and beverage industry, including alcohol regulatory and distribution, have permitted us to gain expertise and insight into the typically fast paced and challenging world of our clients engaged in the food and beverage industry.

    Read More...

    Anthony V. Bova
    Anthony BovaAssociate
    James F. Kavanaugh, Jr.
    James Kavanaugh, Jr.Partner
    Mary ('Beth') E. O'Neal
    Mary ('Beth') O'NealOf Counsel
    Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Kathleen O'TooleAssociate
    Conor  Slattery
    Conor SlatteryAssociate

    Government

    Conn Kavanaugh provides an array of services to clients in the public sector, including state agencies, municipalities, and public officials.

    Read More...

    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew DenningtonPartner
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Kurt B. Fliegauf
    Kurt FliegaufPartner
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol StarkeyPartner

    Healthcare

    The Conn Kavanaugh team has the skills and experience necessary to successfully maneuver our clients through the increasingly complex and highly regulated environment of the health care industry.

    Read More...

    Andrew R. Dennington
    Andrew DenningtonPartner
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna MatloffPartner
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas PeischOf Counsel
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael RossiPartner
    Carol A. Starkey
    Carol StarkeyPartner

    Insurance

    Our lawyers work with our insurance industry clients in a variety of ways. We represent their insureds in virtually every type of lawsuit for which insurance coverage is available. We represent insurance companies directly in bad faith actions, and in high-exposure losses or losses that present unusual or challenging coverage issues.

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell ConnPartner
    Catherine M. DiVita
    Catherine DiVitaAssociate
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Kurt B. Fliegauf
    Kurt FliegaufPartner
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin HigginsPartner
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna MatloffPartner
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas PeischOf Counsel
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael RossiPartner
    Alexis P. Theriault
    Alexis TheriaultAssociate
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray WagnerPartner

    Law Firms

    Since the firm was founded in 1988, our attorneys have been known as “lawyers’ lawyers.”

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell ConnPartner
    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas GallitanoPartner
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin HigginsPartner
    Julie  Martin
    Julie MartinAssociate
    Thomas E. Peisch
    Thomas PeischOf Counsel
    Bob B. Rosenthal
    Bob RosenthalPartner
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael RossiPartner
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher SweeneyAssociate

    Manufacturing

    Conn Kavanaugh has broad experience in representing the interests and needs of various manufacturers.

    Read More...

    Russell F. Conn
    Russell ConnPartner
    Barry E. Gold
    Barry GoldPartner
    Erin K. Higgins
    Erin HigginsPartner
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna MatloffPartner

    Real Estate

    Conn Kavanaugh has a wealth of experience in the real estate field.

    Read More...

    George M. Ford
    George FordOf Counsel
    Bob B. Rosenthal
    Bob RosenthalPartner
    Michael J. Rossi
    Michael RossiPartner
    Neil R. Schauer
    Neil SchauerPartner
    Christopher K. Sweeney
    Christopher SweeneyAssociate
    James Gray  Wagner
    James Gray WagnerPartner

    Staffing and Recruiting

    Staffing companies and Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) are playing an increasingly important role in many aspects of human resource management, as employers are relying more and more on staffing companies and PEOs for payroll and employee benefit administration, risk management, and other increasingly complex administrative burdens.

    Read More...

    Daniel R. Fishman
    Daniel FishmanAssociate
    Thomas J. Gallitano
    Thomas GallitanoPartner
    Barry E. Gold
    Barry GoldPartner
    Johanna L. Matloff
    Johanna MatloffPartner
    Mary ('Beth') E. O'Neal
    Mary ('Beth') O'NealOf Counsel

    NEWS

    February 26, 2020

    Law at Work: Changes in Employment Laws

    By Kathleen R. O'Toole
    Originally published by Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine on February 26, 2020.
    View on Cape & Plymouth Business website here.

    Keeping an eye on changes and trends in employment law is an excellent way for businesses to mitigate risk. Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This adage rings especially true in the frequently changing area of employment law, where simply tracking and complying with changes to the law can significantly reduce the risk of litigation later.

    In the spirit of Mr. Franklin, here is a roundup of some hot topics in employment law in 2020.

    Paid Family And Medical Leave

    At the end of 2019, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by Congress and signed by the president. Included in this NDAA was a provision that offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian federal employees to use for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child occurring on or after Oct. 1, 2020.

    The passage of paid parental leave for federal employees reflects a growing trend in both states and the private sector. Paid family leave policies at large companies, especially in the technology sector (e.g., Spotify, Amazon, Google), have trended upward sharply in recent years. Eight states (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have already passed some form of paid family and medical leave legislation. As more and more U.S. workers gain access to these benefits and the labor market stays tight, employees are more likely to look for competitive leave policies from their employers.

    In Massachusetts, employers of all sizes will be impacted by the recent passage of the Commonwealth’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, which will be managed by the newly established Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML). PFML is ramping up in 2020, with most benefits being made available to employees beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. At that time, most workers in Massachusetts will be eligible to receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave through premiums paid by employees, employers, and the self-employed. Payment withholdings began on Oct. 1, 2019, and those contributions were due to be remitted to the Commonwealth on Jan. 31, 2020.

    Only businesses who employed 25 or more covered individuals in their workforces in the previous calendar year are responsible for making employer contributions for those covered individuals. However, even businesses with less than 25 covered individuals are required to remit the covered individuals’ contributions to the state on their behalf. This means that any business in the Commonwealth with employees is impacted by the PFML.

    New Insurance Products

    Businesses seeking alternatives to participating in the Commonwealth’s system of withholding and remitting payments may offer their own plans, and apply for an exemption. To qualify for an exemption, an employer must have an approved private plan with paid leave benefits that are equal to or more generous than those provided under the PFML program. For businesses that elect to obtain a private plan, the DFML accepts applications for exemption on a rolling basis. Applications must be approved in the quarter prior to the quarter in which the exemption go into effect. Employers will need to submit an application annually to qualify for a private plan exemption.

    Helpfully, in recent months, insurance companies doing business in Massachusetts have rolled out private plans that meet the PFML’s minimum requirements. These insurance policies are generally being offered by insurers who already offer short-term and long-term disability insurance products. On an ongoing basis, the Division of Insurance (DOI) is compiling a list of those insurance companies that are able to provide a PFML Declaration of Insurance that meets DFML standards. As of Jan. 15, 2020, the list includes 18 insurers. This may be a cost-effective option for many companies, and certainly worth a telephone call to your insurance broker.

    When employees are able to use their leave benefits in 2021, navigating the interaction of PFML with other state and federal leave laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, and the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act (MPLA), as well as coordinating the leave with short-term and long-term disability policies, will likely generate confusion for employers and employees alike. As an example, PFML runs concurrently with leave taken under the MPLA and the FMLA if the leave is for a qualified reason under those laws. But, is it also possible for an individual to take PFML leave that would not be covered by another leave law, and take leave under another law at a different time in the year.

    While employers cannot prepare for every possible scenario, employers can take concrete steps such as carefully tracking their employees’ family and medical leave, communicating clear policies in their handbooks, and ensuring the company is up-to-date with all required contributions to the DFML.

    New overtime threshold

    An increased salary threshold under the FLSA that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 means that employees earning between $455/week (i.e., $23,660 annually) and $684/week (i.e., $35,568 annually) may be newly eligible for overtime.

    Employers should look to the FLSA to determine if they need to pay their employees overtime – i.e., time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. When writing job positions or evaluating existing staff, prudent employers should start with the presumption that a role is overtime-eligible, and then consult the FLSA guidance to determine whether any exemptions to overtime apply. Generally, exemptions are available for certain “white collar” workers, while “blue collar” workers are almost always overtime eligible. Employees who are entitled to overtime are known as “non-exempt,” while ineligible employees are known as “exempt.”

    White collar employees are only exempt from overtime requirements if (1) they are paid on a salary basis in an amount that exceeds the statutory threshold (“salary test”); and (2) their job duties fall within the classifications of the applicable exemptions (“duties test”). The most common exemptions are for executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees. Importantly, both the salary test and the duties test need to be satisfied for an employee to qualify as exempt from overtime.

    Between 2004 and 2019, any employees who earned less than $455/week (or $23,660 annually) did not meet the salary test and, thus, were entitled to overtime, regardless of their job duties. As noted above, this salary threshold increased by nearly 50 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Now, all employees who earn less than $684/week (or $35,568 annually) do not meet the salary test and are entitled to overtime. In light of this substantial increase in the salary threshold, employers are well-advised to review their workforce to ensure that all of their employees are properly classified. Employers who fail to properly pay overtime violate the FLSA, as well as Massachusetts wage laws.

    State minimum wage increases

    As of Jan. 1, 2020, the minimum wage in Massachusetts increased from $12 to $12.75 per hour. The minimum wage for service employees or food service workers who customarily and regularly receive more than $20 per month in tips has also increased from $4.35/hour to $4.95/hour.

    Ultimately, by Jan. 1, 2023, the standard minimum wage will increase to $15/hour, and the tipped minimum wage will increase to $6.75/hour.

    Phasing Out of Sunday Premium Pay

    Certain retailers in Massachusetts are required to pay employees a premium rate for work performed on Sundays per M.G.L. c. 136, § 6(50). For many years, that premium rate was 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay, but as of Jan. 1, 2020, it will be only 1.3 times an employee’s regular rate. The rate will decrease by one tenth on each successive January 1st, until it disappears completely on Jan. 1, 2023.

    Decisions from state courts are still shaping the analysis of whether a retailer is subject to premium pay requirements. For example, a recent decision out of Suffolk Superior Court (Galloway v. SimpliSafe, Inc., Docket No. 1784CV03796-BLS1, Dec. 18, 2019) found that customer service representatives working in a call center for a company that sells Internet-based home security systems are entitled to Sunday premium pay.

    This is a noteworthy decision because the company was not operating a traditional “brick-and-mortar” retail store. The court’s expansive view of what constitutes a “store or shop” under the Sunday pay law may take business owners by surprise, though it is not especially unusual for the courts to interpret state wage and hour laws to protect workers. In light of decisions like this one, as well as the limited window of time that Sunday premium pay will be available to employees under Massachusetts law, retail businesses that conduct business on Sundays should ensure they are meeting their wage obligations.

    Separate from the Sunday premium pay requirement for certain retailers, the law also contains a requirement that such retailers cannot require their employees to work on Sundays and cannot penalize any employees who refuse to do so. The gradual annual reductions in the premium Sunday rate has no bearing on this voluntariness requirement, which remains in full effect.


    Happy retirement to Beth O'Neal!

    My talented and dedicated colleague, Beth O’Neal, who wrote “Law At Work” for many years, announced her retirement at the end of 2019. Beth is an exceptional lawyer, and utilized this space to offer comprehensive and expert legal updates to the Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine readership.

    Cheers to my wonderful friend, mentor, and fellow Cape Codder, Beth, as she embarks on her post-law life. I am privileged to pick up where she left off, but will dearly miss having her by my side each day.

    - Kate