While our aggressive litigation staff is always at the ready, the attorneys of PS&H pride themselves on providing practical, cost-effective solutions to our clients’ human resources needs, focusing on our clients' interests to attain their business objectives and goals while minimizing the risks of human resources conflicts.
We advise clients on a daily basis on the potential impact of employment decisions in the areas of pre-employment inquiries, hiring, benefits, leaves of absence, discipline, policies, drug testing, discrimination issues and terminations.
Litigation & Arbitration
Our litigation staff has extensive experience in both state and federal court, and before regulatory agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
Non-competition & Trade Secrets
We negotiate, draft and implement employment contracts, policies, handbooks and separation agreements as well as defend and prosecute lawsuits concerning the enforcement and validity of non-competition, non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreements.
We counsel clients concerning the federal and state tax and employee benefit implications of business decisions, provide technical ERISA/employee benefits assistance in business planning, and assist in regulatory compliance for employee benefit plans.
We represent employers in union matters, including union avoidance and union organizing drives, disputes before the National Labor Relations Board, grievance and arbitration matters, and collective-bargaining negotiations and contract administration.
Through in-house seminars and Client Alerts, we keep our clients abreast of the latest legal rulings and trends and educate management and human resource professionals in the practical application of the law to the most common and problematic human resources issues.
- January 20, 2021 - Employers are no longer required to provide employees with FFCRA leave, but can opt to do so in the first quarter of 2021. PS&H employment attorneys explain how employers should handle the new FFCRA rules. Click to read more.
- October 22, 2020 - Yesterday, the CDC broadened the definition of “close contact” from being within 6 feet of the person for 15 or more consecutive minutes to being in contact for 15 or more total minutes over a 24-hour period (for example, three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). Read more.
- October 8, 2020 - Employers are beginning to contemplate if they should require employees to take the COVID vaccine, once it’s developed. PS&H partner, Alicia Samolis, was asked recently to give her thoughts on this arising dilemma that employers face. Her insights are featured in a recent Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly article titled, Anticipating COVID Vaccine, Employers Ponder Best Course. Read more.
- October 2, 2020 - Rhode Island Executive Order 20-81, which can be viewed here, extends various other previous Orders to November 2, 2020. Amongst other Orders, this Order: (i) extends the Order on mandatory mask wearing; (ii) extends the Order on unemployment accounts not being adversely affected during the pandemic; and (iii) extends the Order requiring mandatory quarantine for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and those informed by the Department of Health that they were a close contact with someone diagnosed as having COVID-19.
- September 16, 2020 - The Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a new temporary rule (“New Rule”) revising and clarifying its previous April 1, 2020 temporary rule (“Prior Rule”) concerning the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Read more.
- September 1, 2020 - Impacts of COVID-19 create potential employer liability from wage and hour claims. PS&H attorneys Alicia Samolis and Suzanne Elovecky explain how to best prepare your company in an article recently published in The Anchor Magazine. Read article.
- August 27, 2020 - The Department of Labor (DOL) added frequently asked questions 98-100 regarding FFCRA leave involving school closures. Specifically, the DOL has now said that employees are entitled to FFCRA leave for days taken to care for a child who is required to attend school remotely on an alternate day or hybrid basis. This new FAQ 98 directly contradicts FAQ 22, which clearly states such intermittent leave may only be provided if the employer agrees. Employers are encouraged to watch this issue closely given that the DOL may change its position prior to the start of the school year. The DOL’s new FAQs also specify that where the school system gives the parents the option for in-person learning and the parents opt for at-home or hybrid learning, none of the time caring for the child during remote learning is eligible for FFCRA because the school is not “closed”. While this guidance is consistent with prior guidance issued by the DOL, employers must remember that they will not be eligible to receive a tax credit for time off paid associated with optional hybrid learning.
- August 25, 2020 - Employers must be wary of how state-ordered travel restrictions can adversely impact their workforce. Read about the current restrictions and strategies to address potential staffing problems here.
- August 11, 2020 - A federal court in New York (“Court”) recently struck down a number of important provisions contained within the Final Rule issued by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”), sending employers scrambling to understand whether the ruling has national impact and how to adjust their company policies applying the FFCRA. Read more here.
- June 16, 2020 - As we move into summer and businesses are reopening, many employers are being confronted with a new, challenging question — whether employees are eligible for leave under the FFCRA based upon a lack of summer child care options despite some child care facilities re-opening and despite school being out for the summer. PS&H attorneys Sheridan King and Michael Gamboli explain here.
- June 11, 2020 - Employers may need to re-issue restrictive covenant agreements to employees returning to work following a COVID-19 lay-off, furlough, or job modification. PS&H attorneys Josh Xavier and Michael Gamboli explain why this is crucial. Click here.
- May 12, 2020 - The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has once again updated its guidance for employers on the implementation of emergency FMLA and emergency sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Click here for current information.
- April 14, 2020 - Governors are continuing to pass orders requiring essential businesses and other businesses which still have employees onsite to take certain safety precautions. In Rhode Island, the governor ordered that employers must provide and require retail employees to wear masks. The full order can be viewed here. Employers also must provide and require masks to be worn in non-retail establishments in common areas or other areas where 6 foot social distancing cannot be maintained. In Pennsylvania, a local order requires essential businesses to establish increased security measures and in New Jersey, a local order requires many essential businesses to provide and require both gloves and masks to be worn by their workers.
- April 10, 2020 - Two orders from the Rhode Island governor on Friday positively impacted employers. First, Executive Order 20-19 indicates that unemployment claims filed for COVID-19 reasons will not be counted against employers’ accounts (meaning their rates will not go up as they usually do when an employee files for unemployment). Second, Executive Order 20-20 created certain quarantine restrictions but exempted employees in the public health, public safety, social services or healthcare industries.
- April 8, 2020 - The CDC updated their guidance regarding critical employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 (such as those identified by an employee with positive contact as having direct contact). The CDC now says the employees may return to the workplace if they are asymptomatic, wear a face mask and practice social distancing (rather than keeping the exposed worker home for 14 days). The CDC also now says that "close contact" includes the 48 hour period prior to the employee being symptomatic. Employers should be careful to also check local orders and regulations to ensure their action does not violate the same prior to following the CDC guidance. The CDC also published a pamphlet for employer use regarding the new guidance. The updated CDC guidance can be found here.
- April 2, 2020 - If you have employees who are physically going into work despite a shelter order or closure order because your business is exempt as an essential business (or in Rhode Island, the individual is unable to work from home), employers are advised to provide the employee a letter that sets forth who they work for, what the employer does and the nature of the exemption. While such a letter is not required in RI and MA, it will make the employee more confident during their commute and in the event the employee is questioned, the letter can help avoid the employee articulating the need to traveling, leading to additional questioning of the employer.
- April 2, 2020 - The Temporary Rule regarding Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been released and can be viewed here.
- April 1, 2020 - Partridge Snow & Hahn Partner and Chair of the Employment & Labor Practice, Alicia Samolis, served as a panelist at PBN's Spring Health Care Summit. Alicia spoke about the impacts the Coronavirus has had from the human resources and employment law perspective. The summit, which focused solely on the Coronavirus pandemic, was a virtual event. To read PBN's recap and to view a full recording of the virtual event click here.
- March 25, 2020 - The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice has been released. Employers should not only post the notice in a conspicuous place or places for all employees to see, but also mail or email the notice to employees working from home. In addition to the poster, frequently asked questions about the notice can viewed here.
- March 24, 2020 - The DOL's new informal guidance indicates the FFCRA will take effect April 1, 2020. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act [FFCRA - House No. 6201] was signed into law the night of March 18, 2020. While Regulations relating to FFCRA are not yet issued, on March 24 the Department of Labor has issued Questions and Answers that, among other things, set the effective date for both the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act as April 1. As a reminder, the FMLA Act amends the existing FMLA to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave if needed to care for the employee’s child because the child’s school or daycare is closed or unavailable due to a public health emergency. The PSL Act provide 80 hours of fully or partially paid leave for a number of different reasons associated with COVID-19. Click here for the full set of Questions and Answers.
- March 20, 2020 - PS&H partner Michael Gamboli gives valuable insight into the Families First Act and the affect it has on small business owners as employers. Click here to listen to the podcast.
- March 20, 2020 - The Families First Coronavirus Response Act [FFCRA - House No. 6201] was signed into law the night of March 18, 2020 and goes into effect no later than April 2, 2020. For employers, two key components of the FFCRA are the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (FMLA Act) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (PSL Act). The FMLA Act amends the existing FMLA to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave if needed to care for the employee’s child because the child’s school or daycare is closed or unavailable due to a public health emergency. The PSL Act provide 80 hours of fully or partially paid leave for a number of different reasons associated with COVID-19. For more detailed information on the FFCRA click here.
- March 20, 2020 - Local restrictions are beginning to issue that will have a severe impact on businesses. Even if your Company does not operate in one of the jurisdictions currently impacted, it is important to understand the trends so that your Company is prepared to respond to the same. Specifically, New York has issued an order requiring employers to reduce their on-site staff by 75%, Pennsylvania has shut down non-life sustaining businesses (even those not open to the public) and California has restricted employees abilities to go to work. Importantly, these orders are generally building in essential business exceptions, which may be more broad than anticipated. For example, Pennsylvania’s interpretation of what is “life sustaining” can be found here.
- March 16, 2020 - Please check our recommendations for best practices for preparing from a human resources standpoint and updates concerning emerging legal and business issues arising from the virus.
- March 16, 2020 - Rhode Island and Massachusetts orders preventing consumption of food and beverages in restaurant and bars went into effect March 17, 2020. For those companies issuing lay-offs and furloughs as a result of the coronavirus, remember Rhode Island is explicitly waiving the seven-day waiting period to collect unemployment in the case of a furlough or lay-off if “covid-19” is noted on the application to collect benefits (see notice). Similarly, the Massachusetts DOL has filed emergency legislation to do the same and also to allow employees to collect unemployment that typically would be unable to do so because the employee is not seeking another job if either (a) the employee is unable to seek work for a corona-virus related reason (such as quarantines or sickness) or (b) the employee is on furlough, is in contact with the employer and would work if called by the employer during the furlough.
- March 16, 2020 - Do you have over 100 employees and need to consider group terminations, furloughs and/or reductions in hours? Review this quick summary of what triggers the obligation to give notice under the WARN-Act.
- March 6, 2020 - PS&H partner Alicia Samolis, provided comment to the Providence Business News (PBN) on the challenges employers are facing in balancing coronavirus concerns with the risk of unintentionally creating stigma and discrimination:
- February 19, 2020 - The U.S. Center for Disease Control has issued interim Guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19. PS&H attorneys Sheridan King and Michael Gamboli explain:
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