Massachusetts Private Employees are Not Entitled to Paid Vacation Time, But If It Is A Benefit Offered By An Employer, Accrued Unused Time Must Be Paid Out Upon Separation

Although Massachusetts private employers are not required to grant vacation time to their employees, many do as benefit to employment. When an employer decides to offer paid vacation time they must be aware that the vacation time accrued or earned under an oral or written agreement with the employee is treated the same as an earned wage under the Massachusetts Wage Act. Therefore, when an employee separates from his/her employer, the employer must determine how many vacation days are accrued, and unused, and the employer must include the accrued, unused vacation pay in the final payment of wages to the employee. When an employee is involuntarily discharged, this means that accrued, unused vacation time must be paid out, along with any other accrued wage, at the time of termination.

Massachusetts Private Employees are Not Entitled to Paid Vacation Time

Although an employer cannot enter into a special contract with an employee that would have the effect of exempting the employer from having to pay out the accrued, unused vacation time to an employee, the employer may limit its exposure to pay out unused vacation time by implementing a “use it or lose it” policy that requires employees to use all of their accumulated vacation time by a certain date or forfeit all or part of it or by capping the amount of vacation time an employee may accrue or earn. If the employer decides to implement one of these policies to limit its exposure to payout vacation, these policies must be in writing.

Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. recommends that employers have a yearly review of its employee handbook to make sure that company policies are compliant with the ever changing laws governing employee earned time. Additionally we suggest that prior to terminating an employee, if there are any question or hesitation as to what is owed to the employee, that you consult an employment attorney to avoid violating the Massachusetts Wage Act, as such violations can result in treble damages. – Susan M. Molinari.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2qeZt1F
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2qE2mdE

Checkup For Your Docs

As a litigation attorney at Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C., I am often asked to review documents after a problem arises with an employee, partner, shareholder, vendor or deceased relative.  More often than not, I am explaining to the client that the documents that will serve to control the path of the litigation are outdated or ambiguous.  Business owners and individuals know what they want to control in their professional and personal lives.  They usually tell their partners, employees or loved ones what their wishes are, but over the course of time the operative documents don’t always match their expectations.  Only when an unexpected event occurs does the problem usually come to light, for example when a partnership or LLC breaks up or becomes dysfunctional; a loved one passes and his or her business is not mentioned in their will; or a key employee leaves and takes a substantial amount of the company’s business with them.  These, and many other scenarios, are common occurrences and should be expected in the course of one’s professional and business lives.  Unfortunately, however, too few of us are prepared for them.

Legal Documents Litigation Attorneys

At Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C., our corporate, estate planning and real estate attorneys strive to make clients aware of the necessity of having all their important documents up to date.  That way if you have to consult with any of our litigation attorneys, you will not be a victim of your own documents. – Paul N. Barbadoro.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2qWXP32
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2qmrx4z

Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Wealthy!

Everyone over the age of eighteen should have an estate plan, regardless of your net worth. An estate plan consists of documents that control decisions over your person or your affairs if you cannot make those decisions for yourself, or if you pass away. It includes not only the documents that everyone thinks about such as a Will or Trust, but it also includes important documents such as a Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, and beneficiary designations.

The wealthy may have a more complex estate plan, but everyone should have the basic documents; Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney, and a Will. A Health Care Proxy gives someone trusted the power to make health decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. While a Health Care Proxy controls health decisions, a Power of Attorney controls business decisions. A Power of Attorney appoints someone you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf. A Will directs how your assets will be distributed after you pass away.

Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Wealthy Quincy

Everyone, no matter your level of wealth, should consider the following as part of their estate plan:

  1. Healthcare Proxy and Power of Attorney: Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney will save your loved ones time and money in a time of crisis. No one wants to become incapacitated; everyone wants to have control over their own affairs, unfortunately life doesn’t always work this way. Without a Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney, if you become incapacitated, your family would need to petition the Probate Court in order to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Imagine the frustration of going to court multiple times in order to obtain this permission on top of the stress and sadness that your family is already going through due to whatever the circumstances are that led to your incapacitation.
  2. Last Will and Testament: A Will can nominate someone to be the Guardian of your children if you pass away. This is the reason many people have Wills drafted. Without this designation in your Will, the Probate Court will decide who becomes the Guardian of your children. This Probate Court action can lead to fighting among family members who are already grieving. Additionally, a Will allows you to control who will inherit your assets. This is especially important if you are in a long-term relationship, but have not officially married. Pursuant to Massachusetts law, if you pass away and are legally single, your estate would first go to your children, parents, or siblings, in that order. As an unmarried couple, your significant other has no rights to your estate, making drafting a Will to include them vitally important.

If you have any questions about basic estate planning documents, please contact the estate planning attorneys at Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P. C. We can sit down with you and draft an estate plan that fits your needs and goals. – Elizabeth A. Caruso.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2olitHq
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2nTDduA

Massachusetts Appeals Court Decides Burden of Proof for Evergreen Clauses

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently analyzed the burden of proof applicable to automatic renewal clauses, otherwise known as evergreen clauses, and concluded that the party seeking to prove performance of the acts required to stop the automatic renewal had the burden to prove compliance with the terms of the contract.  Although the underlying dispute involved a commercial lease, the holding is applicable to any contact containing an evergreen clause.

The landlord and tenant in Patriot Power, LLC v. New Rounder, LLC, Mass. App. Ct. No. 16-P-420 (March 13, 2017), had disagreed as to whether the term of their commercial lease had automatically renewed. The landlord had filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the tenant had not effectively terminated the lease. The disagreement was purely factual, and the resolution depended on whether the jury believed the tenant’s assertion that it had included a termination letter in an envelope containing other correspondence or whether the jury believed the landlord’s assertion that there was no termination letter in the envelope received from the tenant.

The landlord raised the issue of burden of proof early in the dispute, and a judge concluded that the landlord had the burden of proof because it was the moving party. Executive assistants for each party testified in direct contradiction. The jury was instructed that the landlord had the burden of proof, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the tenant. The landlord appealed. The Appeals Court reversed the jury verdict and remanded after concluding that the tenant had the burden of proof on this essential issue.

Massachusetts Appeals Court Decides Burden of Proof for Evergreen Clauses

The Appeals Court recognized that the burden of proof in a declaratory judgment action depends on the nature of the underlying dispute, not on the party that initiated the action. Citing a case every Massachusetts law school graduate remembers, Gray v. Gardner, 17 Mass. 188 (1821) (burden of proof for delivery of sperm whale oil), the court concluded that the tenant had the burden to prove performance of the condition that would avoid the automatic renewal. In other words, the tenant was required to prove that the termination letter required by the lease was contained in the envelope that it sent to the landlord during the applicable notice period.

This decision reinforces the principle that parties should understand the requirements for compliance with their contract conditions, ensure full compliance with any conditions, and extensively document any notifications sent to the opposing party.

If you have any questions about evergreen clauses, please contact the business attorneys at Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. – Kim Kroha.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2oVPEpg
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2nZ7d4i

What’s the difference between PIP and Med Pay coverage on your automobile insurance policy?

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is mandatory. PIP pays reasonable expenses for necessary medical services, lost wages, and replacement services to you, your household members, and your vehicle occupants if injured or killed in an auto accident regardless of fault.

PIP pays the first $2,000.00 in automobile accident related medical bills and will usually cover up to a total of $8,000.00 if the injured party either does not have private health insurance coverage, has a private ERISA-covered health insurance plan, has MassHeath or Medicare, or has had his or her claim denied for non-covered services by the health insurance company. Once the initial $2,000.00 in coverage is exhausted, any remaining outstanding and future medical bills are deferred to your private health insurance company. The remaining $6,000.00 in PIP coverage is reserved for lost wage reimbursement (75% of gross earnings) and/or any medical expenses not covered by your private health insurance carrier, such as cosmetic and dental services, co-payments and deductibles.

It is important to understand the difference between PIP and Medical Payments (Med Pay) coverage when you are selecting your auto insurance coverage and optional coverage packages. Since Med Pay coverage is optional, it is in excess of your PIP coverage and cannot be carried without PIP coverage. The limit of liability you purchase for the Med Pay policy applies to each person who sustains bodily injury in one accident. Your Med Pay coverage moves with you, whether walking, riding in another vehicle, or on public transportation, or in or out of the Commonweath of Massachusetts, as well as with your insured vehicles, regardless of who’s driving and it carries no deductible or co-pay.

The benefit of Med Pay is that is covers myriad of other out-of-pocket costs that your typical health insurance policy will not cover, including chiropractic, dental, prosthetics and, in a worst-case scenario, funeral expenses. Additionally, after you have exhausted your PIP coverage you can tap into the Med Pay policy without ever needing to use your private health insurance.

What’s the difference between PIP and Med Pay coverage on your automobile insurance policy

In Metropolitan Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc., 451 Mass. 389 (2008), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that when the health insurance policy specifically defers payment to Med Pay coverage, then, after the initial $2,000.00 in PIP is exhausted, instead of your medical bills being submitted to your health insurance provider, your bills will be submitted for payment under your Med Pay policy.

Since your health insurance provider is entitled to reimbursement for all benefits paid on your behalf resulting from the accident and will attach a lien to your personal injury case for the repayment of same, having a Med Pay policy can avoid such a lien up to the amount of coverage you have purchased.

When searching for ways to lower your car insurance premium, you may be tempted to drop the Med Pay coverage from your policy because it is not a mandatory policy requirement.  Keep in mind that a basic premium for a Med Pay policy is minimal.  A $5,000.00 policy is likely going to cost between $20.00 and $25.00 per year.  Med Pay coverage can be purchased in increments of as little as $5,000.00 or upwards of $25,000.00 or higher, the benefits of which far outweigh the premium.

If you have been in an accident and you are unsure of your coverage selection and benefits, contact Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, PC and we will review your benefits and assist you in filing a claim to ensure you receive immediate use of your PIP and other benefits under your insurance policy.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2nDU0xx
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2oTuEMp

Estate Planning isn’t just for the wealthy!

Everyone over the age of eighteen should have an estate plan, regardless of your net worth. An estate plan consists of documents that control decisions over your person or your affairs if you cannot make those decisions for yourself, or if you pass away. It includes not only the documents that everyone thinks about such as a Will or Trust, but it also includes important documents such as a Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, and beneficiary designations.

The wealthy may have a more complex estate plan, but everyone should have the basic documents; Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney, and a Will. A Health Care Proxy gives someone trusted the power to make health decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. While a Health Care Proxy controls health decisions, a Power of Attorney controls business decisions. A Power of Attorney appoints someone you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf. A Will directs how your assets will be distributed after you pass away.

Everyone, no matter your level of wealth, should consider the following as part of their estate plan:

  • Healthcare Proxy and Power of Attorney: Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney will save your loved ones time and money in a time of crisis. No one wants to become incapacitated; everyone wants to have control over their own affairs, unfortunately life doesn’t always work this way. Without a Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney, if you become incapacitated, your family would need to petition the Probate Court in order to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Imagine the frustration of going to court multiple times in order to obtain this permission, on top of the stress and sadness that your family is already going through due to whatever the circumstances are that led to your incapacitation.

Power of Attorney

  • Last Will and Testament: A Will can nominate someone to be the Guardian of your children if you pass away. This is the reason many people have Wills drafted. Without this designation in your Will, the Probate Court will decide who will be the Guardian of your children. This Probate Court action can lead to fighting among family members who are already grieving. Additionally, a Will allows you to control who will inherit your assets. This is especially important if you are in a long-term relationship, but have not officially married. Pursuant to Massachusetts law, if you pass away and are legally single, your estate would first go to your children, parents, or siblings, in that order. As an unmarried couple, your significant other has no rights to your estate, making drafting a Will to include them vitally important.

If you have any questions about basic estate planning documents, please contact the estate planning attorneys at Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. We can sit down with you and craft an estate plan that fits your needs and goals. – Elizabeth A. Caruso.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2nx14Qk
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2mSgBa9

Looking Through the Haze of the Nonmedical Marijuana Law In Massachusetts

Everyone has already heard that Massachusetts citizens voted to legalize nonmedical marijuana, often referred to as recreational marijuana, and now set forth in Chapter 94G of the General Laws. What legalization means, however, has been a little hazy. This article sets forth an outline of what legalized nonmedical marijuana in Massachusetts means to employers, businesses interested in joining the cannabis industry, municipalities, and everyone else.  The focus is on the state law aspects of legalization as the laws stand today because Legislators have stated that they are open to changing some provisions of the law, and they have already pushed back the timeframes in the new law by six months.  Additionally, marijuana is still an illegal drug under Federal law.

Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Lawyers

First, the laws are written in a manner that discourages public consumption but allows significant freedoms for those interested in consuming marijuana privately.  Public consumption is restricted under the new law, but not illegal.  Any person who consumes marijuana in a public place or smokes marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited is subject to a civil penalty of $100 or less.  Additionally, marijuana sales continue to be illegal until a licensed dispensary is open.  Home grow is the acceptable method for obtaining marijuana at this juncture — adults may grow up to six marijuana plants in their home or up to twelve plants if there are two or more adults in the home.  Subject to some restrictions, such as possession in a school or open possession in a vehicle, it is also fully legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside of their homes.

Second, the law likely affects employment matters with the contours yet to be determined.  Employers can still prohibit employees from consuming or being under the influence of nonmedical marijuana during working hours.  It is unlikely, however, that an employer can make hiring decisions based on personal marijuana use unless such use had an effect on an employee’s performance.  For adults over 21, marijuana is legal just like alcohol under state law, and until the courts provide additional guidance, employers should treat marijuana use the same as they would treat alcohol use.

Third, the laws encourage the licensing of nonmedical marijuana dispensaries.  One of the issues with the medical marijuana laws, passed during the 2012 election, was the delay in licensing medical marijuana dispensaries.  The first medical dispensary was licensed in 2015, almost three years after the law passed.  Accordingly, the new law set forth timelines for the government to follow in licensure.  Members of a new licensing commission, the Cannabis Control Commission, must be appointed in 2017 and the commission must adopt regulations for licensing.  If regulations are timely adopted, medical marijuana professionals may apply for licenses on April 1, 2018.  The timing for anyone else to apply depends on the amount of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries open or in the application process; applications will open to the general public on July 1, 2018 or April 1, 2019. If regulations are not timely adopted, licensed medical marijuana dispensaries may begin selling to the general adult population on July 1, 2018.

The law limits the scope of prohibitive bylaws that a municipality can enact to limit licensure.  For example, municipalities must license nonmedical dispensaries equal to at least 20% of their licensed alcohol package stores.  A municipality may be able to prohibit dispensaries by a town vote with a majority of voters voting to approve the ban; the law is open to interpretation on this point.  Licensing preference is given to medical marijuana dispensaries, but anyone can apply on or after July 1, 2018 (this date could get extended to April 1, 2019 depending on the status of medical marijuana licensing).

Fourth, the nonmedical marijuana law opens up many other business opportunities besides the direct sale of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  The law authorizes the sale, possession, and manufacturing of marijuana accessories such as pipes and growing equipment.  Previously, the sale of marijuana drug paraphernalia was illegal under state law.  Businesses in the cannabis industry have struggled with banking relationships because of the existing Federal laws.  Our client, Century Bank, has provided a method to cross that hurdle by accepting deposit relationships with businesses in the cannabis industry, subject to an application process.

Please contact our Licensing lawyers for more information or guidance with navigating the marijuana laws. – Kim Kroha.

from QUINCY ATTORNEYS-Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro P.C. 300 Crown Colony Dr #500 Quincy, MA 02169 (781) 848-9610 http://ift.tt/2mpAwwI
via https://bbb-lawfirm.com
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2ncxE6w