On August 25, 2016, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts declined to create a "labor relations privilege" for communications between employees and their union representatives.
On September 7, the District Court also rejected applying the Title VII standard for employer liability to state discrimination actions under M.G.L. 151B.
The Massachusetts Pay Equity Act, signed into law on August 1, creates new protections to close the gap in pay between men and women—including the first in the nation bar on asking for salary history in an interview.
Also, the 1st Circuit issued its decision in Burns v. Johnson, finding that circumstantial evidence is sufficient to overcome a summary judgment motion in gender discrimination and harassment claims.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the clock starts on a "constructive discharge" claim when the employee provides notice of their intent to quit, not when the discriminatory action occurs.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court also rules in Verdrager v. Mintz Levin that self-help discovery is protected activity for retaliation purposes.
You manage a building with a no-pet policy. A resident walks into your office and proclaims that she needs to have a companion animal, a big Siberian Husky, right now. Your inclination is to tell her no way, because you don't allow any pets, and certainly not a big dog. What should you do?
Recently, there have been many more requests from residents and applicants for service animals. In the past, these primarily involved seeing-eye dogs, but now there are numerous requests for emotional support or comfort animals, which are primarily dogs or cats, but can also be other animals such as birds, monkeys or iguanas.
Various studies have demonstrated that emotional support animals can assist in the treatment of physical and mental illness. They can help decrease depression, stress and anxiety. An increasing number of hospitals now allow pets on their floors to comfort patients.
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Article by Kenneth Krems for New England Affordable Housing Management Association publication
You have a few vacancies, so it is time to see who is at the top of your waiting list. The first applicant is a man with some history of drug addiction. You are uneasy about accepting him as a tenant. You want to protect your site from drug users, but you vaguely remember that drug addicts have some protection under the law. What should you do?
Under the American with Disabilities Act and other statutes, it is illegal to refuse to rent to an applicant based upon the handicapped status of the applicant. In general, substance abusers are protected from discrimination by the statues, so you cannot refuse to rent an apartment to someone simply because he has a history of using drugs.