Massachusetts Legislative Update

Date: July 14, 2021

Massachusetts Legislative Update

Massachusetts Legislative Hearings Continue

As most state legislative sessions wind down during the summer, Massachusetts is gearing up for a busy July with numerous hearings on bills that will impact small businesses. NFIB provided testimony and written comments for many of these damaging proposals.

 

Restrictive Scheduling

NFIB testified against a series of bills that would dictate how businesses schedule their workers. The proposals demand businesses post schedules 14-days in advance and require written consent from workers to change shifts. Predictability pay is mandated if an employer modifies a workers’ schedule within the 14-day timeframe and without written permission. This bill specifically targets industries like restaurants, retailers, and hospitality.

 

Another scheduling bill mandates work schedules be posted 7-days in advance or else predictability pay is triggered. This bill applies to businesses of all sizes regardless of industry.

 

Dignity at Work

The Dignity at Work Act, formerly known as the Healthy Workplace bill, would address supposed incidents of workplace bullying. The legislation creates a new private right of action for workers to sue employers who feel they are mistreated at work. The bill holds employers accountable regardless of whether or not they are aware of an incident.

 

The bill uses subjective language like: “impacts on a worker’s self-esteem” or “repeated reminders of past mistakes”. One of the criteria for harassment to be actionable says it has to “disturb the emotional tranquility in the workplace”, which can certainly be interpreted to varying degrees. The bill considers “excessive supervision” and “unwarranted monitoring” as bullying too.

 

The bill also forbids work schedules from being crafted that deliberatively “inconvenience” workers. This begs the question: Would an employer or management be forced to meet any and every scheduling demand or face legal action?

 

NFIB provided comments in opposition to this onerous legislation that will harm small businesses and benefit unscrupulous trial lawyers seeking to file frivolous claims.

 

 

Product Bans

 

Remember those food containers that kept so many take-out businesses afloat during the pandemic? Massachusetts lawmakers want them banned.

 

Recent legislative hearings took place on bills regarding the use and distribution of products like plastic bags, plastic straws, bottle caps, balloons, utensils, polystyrene containers, condiment packets, & napkins. Some of the proposals called for products now being by the request of customers only. However, other bills went so far as to outright ban existing products and instead mandate the use of compostable alternatives.

 

NFIB offered testimony noting the higher cost of these alternative products and how those added expenses negatively impact businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.   

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