Skip to main content

The B&B Docket Blog:

Developments in the Dynamic World

of Business and Employment Law


For the first time in a Massachusetts reported decision, Worcester Superior Court Judge, Dennis J. Curran, included severance pay in the definition of “wages” for purposes of the Massachusetts Payment of Wages Act (“the Act”).  In Juergens v. MicroGroup, Inc., an employee sought to enforce a severance agreement, successfully arguing that his severance pay qualified as “wages,” which would entitle…
Read More


The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held that an employer could not make deductions from employees’ wages to recover the costs associated with ‘preventable accidents’ caused by employees.  In this case, Camara v. Attorney General, the employer had a policy that gave employees, waste and recycling truck drivers,  an option of either accepting disciplinary action or agreeing to a wage…
Read More

Drafter Beware – Employment Handbooks as Binding Contracts. Part 3 of 3: ’Warning! This Policy Manual Is Not a Contract’: Is a disclaimer enough?

Employer’s frequently include disclaimer language in their employment manuals in an effort to thwart efforts to characterize their policies as contracts.  This is done by management in order to avoid extending additional rights and avenues of relief to disgruntled employees. In O’Brien v. New England Telephone Co. the SJC found that a policy manual was an implied contract but that…
Read More

Drafter Beware – Employment Handbooks as Binding Contracts, Part 2 of 3: “Competing Considerations in Massachusetts Case Law”

There is much debate, especially in the courts, as to whether an employment policy manual is enforceable as a contract.  The Massachusetts Appeals Court commented in Ferguson v. Host International, 53 Mass. App. Ct. 96, 103 (2001), that “t would be unfair to allow an employer to distribute a policy manual that make the workforce believe that certain promises have…
Read More

Part 1 of 3 – Drafter Beware: Employment Handbooks as Binding Contracts

In Massachusetts, employment is ‘at-will’ unless modified by contract or statute.  This now familiar principle permits employees to resign and employers to terminate the employment relationship at their respective whims – subject to some narrow, yet important, exceptions.   Exceptions to the ‘at-will’ doctrine include statutory protections such as laws addressing discrimination (MGL 151B) , wage violations (MGL c. 149 s.…
Read More

Owners Have a Duty to Keep Their Properties Reasonably Clear of Snow and Ice – 100 Year Old Natural Accumulation Rule Overturned

If you are a property owner, don't delay getting your shovels out this winter.  Property owners are now obligated to take reasonable steps to keep their properties free of snow and ice, no matter the source.  Since 1883, Massachusetts courts have consistently held that a property owner is only liable in negligence for failing to remove "unnatural" accumulations of snow…
Read More

Massachusetts CORI Reform: More Than Just Banning the Box

Massachusetts’ recent reform of the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) administrative procedures contains one widely-noted provision, the so-called “ban the box” rule, but contains a number of other new provisions that may have a significantly greater impact on the hiring process. The “ban the box” provision prohibits employers from requiring job applicants to disclose criminal offenses on written employment applications…
Read More


The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently held in 11-227-10 Cummings Properties, LLC v. Cepoint Networks, LLC, et al.,(Appeals Court, November 19, 2010 ), that the guarantor of a commercial lease agreement who was not in possession of the property, could not be named as a party to a summary process (eviction) case.   Summary process is an expedited eviction procedure that can…
Read More