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Training Services

Labor, Employment, Benefits & Governance Training Services

Here is an overview of the training programs offered. Should you have questions regarding the training programs identified below, other training programs offered, or how any of our training programs can be individually tailored to meet your needs, please contact us at information@mhtl.com.

Discrimination Law Basics

Employers must comply with both federal and state discrimination laws. Generally speaking, it is unlawful for an employer to take job actions that are based on a person's "protected" status, such as the person's race, color, religion, sex (gender), sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental handicap or disability, membership in the uniformed services, genetic information, or other legally protected class.

This training provides managers with (1) A solid working knowledge of the conduct and job actions proscribed by the discrimination laws; (2) discussion of recent court and agency decisions demonstrating common workplace conduct and practices found to be discriminatory; and (3) training to administer their employment practices so as to avoid or lessen the risk of discrimination claims.

Harassment Prevention Training

Many harassment cases are won or lost on the basis of the response of front-line supervisors and managers to complaints of harassment. Appropriate responses to harassment complaints coordinated between human resources personnel and supervisory employees can often provide a near complete defense to harassment claims. In addition, the adequacy and reach of an employer's harassment prevention training programs are now central issues in most harassment trials.

This training is designed to enhance the employer's harassment prevention and response programs, and focuses on (1) providing appropriate harassment prevention training and other preventative mechanisms; (2) recognizing conduct that may be considered unlawful harassment: and (3) providing management and human resources personnel the necessary tools to respond appropriately to complaints of harassment.

Disability Law Protections - What is Compliance?

Disability discrimination claims are on the rise. Early recognition of the need to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee because of his or her disability can help employers avoid costly litigation. State and federal disability laws set forth a myriad of legal hurdles - prohibiting employers from asking certain questions and disallowing medical examinations in many instances. With training, however, employers can learn how to obtain the maximum permissible amount of information about an individual's alleged disability, and how to make informed decisions about a requested accommodation.

This training teaches employers (1) how to obtain medical documentation of disabilities; (2) when a reasonable accommodation must be provided; (3) how to engage in the "interactive process" to determine an appropriate accommodation; and (4) how to identify and resolve issues that may otherwise give rise to claims of disability discrimination or unlawful refusal to provide accommodation.

Leave Laws

Most employers now know the Family and Medical Leave Act basics, but the FMLA is not the only law that may require an employer to provide its employees with time off from. The Americans with Disabilities Act as well as various state maternity and family medical leave statutes cover many employers and, in some instances, contain provisions that impose different and more stringent obligations on employers than the FMLA. Ensuring that an employer's leave policies take into account all applicable statutes allowing employees to take time off from work is an important first step in avoiding liability for failing to provide a leave of absence.

This training (1) assists employers in recognizing conditions and circumstances that may trigger an obligation to provide a leave of absence; (2) illustrates the intersection of various leave obligations and how they can best be set forth in an employer's leave policies; and (3) provides a summary of applicable state and federal leave laws.

National Labor Relations Act Basics

Many employers are unaware that the National Labor Relations Act covers union-free workplaces as well as unionized workplaces. Federal labor law provides employees certain rights regardless of whether their workplace is organized. MHTL offers training that will inform supervisors and managers of the scope of employee rights at work to avoid inadvertent violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

This training (1) offers comprehensive training for managers and human resources personnel regarding legal compliance; and (2) training on appropriate conduct when faced with a union election campaign and/or newly unionized workforce.

Hiring Process

Nearly every manager and human resources professional has faced difficult issues in connection with the hiring of employees. With the proliferation of laws and regulations governing the workplace, these hiring decisions often give rise to costly litigation. Employers should be aware that there are several basic steps they can take at the hiring stage which can limit their exposure down the road.

This training focuses on (1) permissible and impermissible inquiries during the hiring process; (2) pre-employment medical examinations and drug testing, and criminal offender record information and background checks; and (3) providing practical guidance as to how to handle common dilemmas that arise in the hiring process.

Documentation

Every human resources professional has heard the mantra "document, document, document," but the difference between "good" and "bad" documentation is often the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit. All forms of documentation, including via electronic media, often play a central role in employment litigation.

This training offers (1) practical guidance for supervisors and managers on proper documentation of discipline, misconduct, absenteeism, reasonable accommodation, and other workplace issues; (2) an overview of documentation employees are required to maintain; and (3) guidance as to the narrow sets of circumstances in which documentation may not be a wise course of action.

Discipline and Discharge

Immobilized by the fear of litigation and the nuanced difficulty of preparing written disciplinary records, many supervisors and managers delay or forego employee discipline in many instances. The absence of well-documented discipline, and certainly the avoidance of discipline when it would otherwise be warranted, can undermine an employer's defense to an employment-related claim.

This training provides (1) practical guidance to supervisors and managers on documenting discipline; (2) strategies for effective corrective counseling sessions; and (3) a brief overview of relevant employment statutes with an emphasis on legitimate, non-discriminatory disciplinary actions that an employer may take without running afoul of state and federal law.

Wage and Hour Compliance for Managers

Litigation in the wage and hour areas is widespread and costly. Much of this litigation is based upon an employer's failure to pay overtime to employees who the employer classified as "exempt," but who should have been classified as "non-exempt." Employers who are wrestling with whether to classify an employee as exempt or nonexempt should be guided by the analysis of the courts in this area. In cases where an employee's exempt status is challenged, the courts have held that the employer, not the employee, has the responsibility of proving
that the employee is exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Within this landscape, employers must proceed with caution and perform due diligence to ensure that they are making supportable decisions in terms of employee classifications.

This training will provide (1) an overview of the scope of exemptions from the overtime pay requirements under state and federal law; (2) proper documentation of hours worked; and (3) training on conducting audits of employer pay practices.

Giving and Getting References

Giving employee references can be tricky and can expose an employer to the risk of liability. While courts have recognized the need for reference communications in the employment setting and have created a privilege that protects some of these communications, the protection afforded employers is not absolute. Employers need to be cognizant about saying too much in certain instances, which could draw a defamation claim; and not saying enough in other instances, which could result in a claim for failure to warn of a potentially violent employee, for example. Moreover, an employer's failure to perform an appropriate reference check and/or failure to take appropriate action in response to certain kinds of negative references could draw a claim for negligent hiring. Accordingly, employers need to be aware of the risks associated with giving and getting references and adopt appropriate reference policies.

This training (1) provides human resources professionals an overview of the laws that may be implicated in the employee reference context; (2) outlines the benefits and risks of commonly used reference policies; and (3) focuses on the development of effective reference policies and the importance of uniform application of such policies in the workplace.

Conducting Internal Investigations

Today, employers find themselves conducting workplace investigations on an increasingly frequent basis. Although investigations can take many forms and arise in a variety of circumstances, internal investigations commonly involve allegations of workplace misconduct. These investigations frequently become a focus of harassment litigation because a prompt and appropriate investigation accompanied by prompt and appropriate remedial action can provide an employer with an affirmative defense to such claims.

This training (1) provides a practical guide to conducting internal investigations of workplace misconduct; and (2) outlines the various objectives and necessary steps in conducting workplace investigations; and (3) general legal considerations to take into account.

Employee Privacy

Employee privacy concerns in the workplace are increasingly becoming the subject of employment-related litigation. These claims typically arise out of actions taken in connection with the monitoring of email, drug and alcohol testing situations, and monitoring of computer and internet usage.

This training (1) outlines the current status of the law regarding employee privacy rights in the workplace, including laws affecting email, internet monitoring, and drug-testing policies; (2) provides practical guidance on policy development; and (3) discusses strategies for dealing with incidents involving inappropriate use of technology and reporting to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Record Retention for Managers

Record retention is serious business. As an employer, the paper you save is important. In today's high tech world, record retention requirements reach right into the world of electronic media. In order to navigate the often complex paper trails of today's workplace, it is important to keep up to date with record retention requirements.

This training provides employers with some general guidelines on record retention requirements under state and federal laws, including the appropriate contents for personnel files, payroll records, OSHA records, and immigration records.<

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St. Mary's Center for Women and Children Diamonds of Dorchester

On October 20, 2016, Attorney Katherine Hesse introduced Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at the annual St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children Diamonds of Dorchester event which was held at the Westin Copley Place.  Ms. Hesse currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children which focuses on offering innovative and family-centered programs for women and children who have experienced trauma and are living in poverty.  As Governor Baker noted, the St. Mary’s Center has been known for “healing” for well over 100 years.   According to Attorney Hesse, “of the many charities in which I have been involved over the last 40 years of my professional career, St. Mary’s is closest to my heart.”  Other highlights of the evening included Lorrie Higgins receiving the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence based upon her advocacy of and commitment in helping those most vulnerable in our community.  Over six hundred individuals attended the event, which raised approximately $500,000 for the women and children who rely upon the center.  

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Legal Updates

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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

In a much anticipated ruling,the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) issued a decision recognizing a potential claim for disability discrimination if an employer terminates or otherwise takes an adverse employment action against an employee who uses lawfully prescribed medicinal marijuana while off-duty.   In short, this decision prohibits blanket restrictions on the off-duty use of marijuana and requires employers to engage in an interactive process to determine whether the off-duty use of lawfully prescribed medical marijuana may be a reasonable accommodation under Massachusetts anti-discrimination law, M.G.L. c. 151B.

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