Attorneys & Professionals

Katherine A. Hesse

TEL: (617) 479-5000

Katherine Hesse is one of the founding partners of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP. Ms. Hesse concentrates her practice primarily in labor and employment and employee benefits law serving as counsel to individuals, business, government, and tax exempt organizations including hospitals, colleges, churches, and major private and public retirement and health plans. She has litigated numerous employment and benefits cases before the state and federal trial and appellate courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators. She is also an active practitioner in all forms of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, conciliation, fact finding and various forms of arbitration.

Ms. Hesse is past Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Boston Bar Association and member of the Labor Law Section Council of the Massachusetts Bar Association. She has served as president of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and as chair of the Attorney's Committee of the International Foundation of Employees Benefit Plans. A member of the Editorial Board of Benefits Quarterly, she leads the team of attorneys who write its Legal-Legislative-Regulatory Update. In addition to her professional commitments, Ms. Hesse also serves or has served on a number of boards including the following:

  • House of Delegates, Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Trustee and Oliver Wendell Holmes Life Fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation (the charitable arm of the Massachusetts Bar Association)
  • Board of Directors of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • President, South Shore Chamber of Commerce (the largest Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts with over 2,800 members)
  • Senior Advisory Council, Massachusetts Healthcare Human Resources Association
  • Member of the Board of Directors of St. Mary's Women and Children's Center
  • Past President, The Alliance of Women's Business and Professional Organizations (an umbrella organization of women's business organizations dedicated to enhancing the power, visibility and influence of business and professional women)
  • Former Vice Chair of the Board, Saint John of God Hospital
  • Former Chairman of the Board, St. Coletta's of Massachusetts, Inc., the parent holding company of the Cardinal Cushing School and Training Center, the Braintree St. Coletta's Day School, and the Cardinal Cushing Residence. For over fifty years, St. Coletta's schools have provided programs for the developmentally disabled and, more recently, subsidized housing for clients with special needs

In May of 2009, Ms. Hesse received the Women of Distinction Award from the Woodward School for Girls in Quincy, MA. This award recognizes two women from the South Shore community who have displayed a genuine commitment to community service, high moral character, and who have been successful in their vocations.

She was the 1997 recipient of the Cushing-Gavin Award for excellence in providing management labor relations legal counsel and a 2002 recipient of the Patriots' Trail Girl Scouts Leading Women Award. She also heads the team of attorneys that was named the only firm in New England and one of only eleven in the United States on the special ERISA fiduciary litigation panel for one of the world's largest insurance companies and recently successfully concluded a $110,000,000 class action lawsuit. An MCAD certified trainer, she frequently conducts training seminars for the MBA, MCLE, BBA, and for clients and other professional and business groups on employment and benefits related topics including sexual harassment and diversity.

Ms. Hesse is a graduate of Smith College and the Boston University School of Law. She is admitted to the Bars of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce: Labor & Law Employment Update

MHTL attorneys Katherine Hesse and Kier Wachterhauser will be presenting information regarding important legal issues and developments in the Labor & Employment field at a Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce (NVCC) event on Thursday, November 15th.  These presentations will include a comprehensive overview of major legislative/regulatory/case law developments, as well as best practices in navigating issues such as marijuana in the workplace and sexual harassment.

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Supreme Judicial Court Issues Important Decision Protecting Employers – Back Pay Awards Do Not Constitute “Wages” Under the Wage Act and Thus Are Not Subject To Trebling

In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC” or “Court”) declined to classify a court-ordered “back pay” award as “wages” under the Massachusetts Wage Act (“Wage Act”).   In response to a request for briefs from the Court, Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP (MHTL), on behalf of its public and private clients, submitted an amicus brief, supporting the defendant employer’s position.   The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the New England Legal Foundation also submitted amici briefs.  This decision – a significant victory for employers – has far-reaching consequences and helps to protect employers from punitive and excessive penalties in many employment contexts.  Had the case been decided for the plaintiffs, it could have had significant ramifications for employers, extending the punitive damage scheme under the Wage Act (strict liability, treble damages, attorneys’ fees, individual liability, etc.) to a myriad of different employment contexts.

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