Recent Developments

21 March, 2013

An independent arbitrator agreed with UNITE HERE Local 26, represented by Attorney Patrick Bryant, that a terminated hotel employee was entitled to the union contract's requirement of just cause for discipline.

24 March, 2013

A Federal Judge in Massachusetts recently dismissed claims under the First Amendment, Massachusetts whistleblower law, and tort law brought by a member of the Cotuit Permanent Fire Fighters, Local 3462. The case, if upheld on appeal, is a cautious reminder that the First Amendment does not provide public employees with absolute protection against adverse employment actions based upon their exercise of free speech. Plus, it cautions that not every negative action that occurs after lawful activity by an employee can support a legal claim.

16 March, 2013

It is often said that employers can terminate at-will employees for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all, even when such an action relies upon dubious allegations, unfair process, or inconsistent treatment. A union can provide a strong defense against arbitrary actions of employers, as shown by the recent victory of SEIU Local 1199 United Healthcare Workers East.

3 March, 2013

The Massachusetts Wage Act, Chapter 149, Section 148, requires an employer to pay all outstanding wages, including vacation pay, on the same day it terminates an employee. In Dixon v. City of Malden, the City terminated an employee after nearly 25 years of service, but failed to pay him his accrued vacation leave on the date of termination. The City continued him on the payroll for three more months, but never claimed that the payments were in lieu of accrued 50 days of vacation.

2 March, 2013

On behalf of 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, Attorney Terence Coles persuaded an arbitrator that the North Adams Regional Hospital's termination of an employee was without just cause and therefore violated the collective bargaining agreement. The Arbitrator, as is customary, ordered the Hospital to back certain lost wages and reinstate the employee to his previous position.

2 March, 2013

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Boston and Salaried Employees of North America (SENA), Local 9158 of the United Steelworkers permits the City to be the sole decisionmaker on certain promotions.

21 February, 2013

In April 2009, the City of Attleboro terminated an injured firefighter because it claimed that surveillance video showed that he was not as disabled as he claimed and could have, despite his claims, returned to work. The fire fighter had suffered two serious injuries in the line of duty that disabled him from working as a firefighter. He went through three medical procedures and was in the midst of participating in a work hardening program so he could hopefully return to work.

17 February, 2013

For at least 15 years, the Town of Andover has responded to first alarms in a consistent manner: first recalling all off-duty Andover Fire Fighters, and, as necessary, using fire departments from other towns under the concept of “mutual aid” to supplement the response. Andover fire fighters have been the principal responders for first and second alarms. The collective bargaining agreement between the Town and Local 1658, IAFF recognized that bargaining unit work is performed by Local 1658 members only.

7 February, 2013

In O’Neill v. School Committee of N. Brookfield, the SJC confirmed that a City, Town or School Committee cannot escape promises it made to provide postretirement benefits to a former public employee.