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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”), signed into law by Governor Baker last July, goes into effect on April 1, 2018. The PWFA supplements Massachusetts employment discrimination laws, applicable to employers with six or more employees, by adding pregnant employees and employees with pregnancy-related medical conditions (including breastfeeding) as a protected class with the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace and the right to reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions, if such accommodations do not cause an undue hardship on the employer.
Massachusetts employers will be required to accommodate all pregnant workers just as they are required to accommodate employees with disabilities. However, federal law, relative to the accommodation of employees with disabilities, is distinguishable. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), a normal pregnancy is not considered to be a disability. As a result, only where a pregnant employee has a disability (such as complications related to pregnancy) must an employer accommodate the employee’s disability under federal law. Clearly, the PWFA expands an employer’s reasonable accommodation obligations in that it applies to all pregnant employees, not just those pregnant employees who have disabilities.
Duty to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
The PWFA addresses the employer’s obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation; what constitutes a reasonable accommodation; and the context for analyzing whether an accommodation is reasonable or not under the test of whether it would constitute an “undue burden.”
Under the PWFA, a “reasonable accommodation” enables an employee (or prospective employee) to perform essential job functions while pregnant (or while experiencing a condition related to pregnancy). In general, determining the appropriate reasonable accommodation is achieved through an interactive dialogue between the employer and the employee requesting the accommodation (which is the same concept required under the ADA law dealing with employees (or applicants) with disabilities). The interactive dialogue requirement contemplates that an employer will engage in a collaborative, good-faith process with employees and prospective employees to determine effective and reasonable accommodations. The PWFA specifically identifies several reasonable accommodations that may be provided by the employer to the covered employee including:
More frequent or longer breaks and/or a modified work schedule
Changes to seating/work equipment
Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, and/or assistance with manual labor
Time off to attend to a pregnancy complication or recover from childbirth
Private, non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk
The PWFA requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations unless the employer is able to demonstrate an undue hardship on the employer’s business. Undue hardship may be demonstrated where an employer proves that the requested accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense, taking into consideration relevant factors including the size and resources of the employer; the nature and cost of the accommodation; and the effect on expenses and resources or any other impact of the accommodation on the employer’s business.
The PWFA does permit an employer to require written documentation from a health care professional demonstrating the need for most accommodations; however, employers cannot require documentation of the need for more frequent breaks, changes to seating, limits on lifting more than twenty pounds, or providing a private, non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk.
The PWFA prohibits several practices by an employer. An employer may not:
Take an adverse action against a pregnant employee or an employee with a pregnancy-related condition who has requested a reasonable accommodation;
Deny an employment opportunity to a pregnant employee or an employee with a pregnancy-related condition based on the need to make a reasonable accommodation;
Require a pregnant employee or an employee with a pregnancy-related condition to take a leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation may be provided without undue hardship;
Require a pregnant employee or an employee with a pregnancy-related condition to accept an accommodation that is not necessary for the employee to perform the essential functions of the job;
Refuse to hire a person because that person is pregnant or has a pregnancy-related condition, if the person is capable of performing the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation, unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship.
Written Notice to Employees
Similar to other Massachusetts laws (including the Sick Leave Law and the Domestic Violence Leave law) the PWFA requires employers to ensure that its employees have written notice of their rights under the PWFA. The notice may be provided in a handbook or pamphlet or other means of notice to all employees. Employers must provide written notice of the rights afforded by the PWFA to all current employees prior to its April 1, 2018 effective date. After the effective date, employers must provide written notice to all new hires prior to their start dates and then again to any employee if that employee provides notice to the employer of pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy within 10 days of such notification by the employee, even if the employee had previously received written notice of their rights.
Conn Kavanaugh has prepared a draft notice for employers, available here. However, employers should tailor their written notice to their own businesses.
Employee Remedies for Employer’s Violation of PWFA
Employees will have all of the remedies provided under the Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws to challenge and seek redress for an employer’s violation of the Act. This includes filing a charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) and filing suit against an employer. The MCAD has issued guidance and a Q&A document which provides additional clarification on the employer’s responsibilities under the Act, which is available here.
How to Comply
Employers should update their antidiscrimination policies and provide supervisors and managerial staff with training regarding employees’ rights under the PWFA. They should also take affirmative steps to evaluate the types of accommodations employees most likely will request under the PWFA and carefully consider how to implement those accommodations and whether they may pose an undue burden. Employers also should assess the essential functions of various positions, and whether (and how) an accommodation might permit an employee affected by pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition to fulfill those functions. Employers will want to make sure that employees have access to private non-bathroom spaces for nursing or expressing breast milk, which the PWFA considers to be a reasonable accommodation (and which is already required under federal law).