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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

on . Posted in Corporate Law Blog

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which went into effect on April 1, 2018, makes it unlawful for an employer in Massachusetts to discriminate against an employee due to pregnancy or a pregnancy related condition, including breast feeding.

What is unlawful under the Act?

  1. Taking an adverse action or retaliating against an employee who requests a reasonable accommodation. This includes failing to reinstate the employee to the original employment status or an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other applicable service credits when the need for reasonable accommodation ceases. 
  2. Denying an employment opportunity to an employee based on the need of the employer to make a reasonable accommodation to known pregnancy related conditions.
  3. Requiring a pregnant employee or employee with a pregnancy related condition to accept an accommodation unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. 
  4. Requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation may be provided without undue hardship on the employer. 
  5. Refusing to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or because of a condition related to the person’s pregnancy if the person is capable of performing the essential functions of the position with reasonable accommodations that do not impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks; time off due to a pregnancy complication or recovery from childbirth, with or without pay; acquisition or modification of equipment or seating; temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position; job restructuring; light duty; private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk; assistance with manual labor; and a modified work schedule.

Under the Act, an employer can only deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or condition related to the employee’s pregnancy if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose and undue hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise or business.

If you have any questions related to this topic and how it may affect you and your business, please contact a member of our corporate department for help.

European Union Data Protection Regulation

on . Posted in Corporate Law Blog

On May 25, 2018, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect, strengthening individual privacy rights. The new measures allow people to reduce the trail of information left when browsing social media, reading the news or shopping online, by being able to request the data the companies hold on them and demand it to be deleted.

Even if your company is based in the United States, you should update your website terms of use. Please contract a member of our corporate department if you have any questions, or need assistance in connection with this topic.

Elder Orphans

on . Posted in Elder Law Blog

Everyone needs some kind of an estate plan whether they are 25 or 95.  However, there are certain situations where having a properly crafted plan takes on special importance.   A recent New York Times article titled “Single? No Kids? Don’t Fret: How to Plan Care in Your Later Years” highlighted the problem facing a relatively new and quickly growing demographic.    

According to a recent study led by Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health system on Long Island, 22% of people 65 and older either are childless or have children who are not in contact.  These single childless elders, so-called “elder orphans,” face many additional risks of aging alone.  In fact, it is noted they are at a higher risk for medical problems, cognitive decline, premature death and elder abuse.  Given these additional risks, it is important these elders take additional planning precautions to ensure they remain independent and safe as they age. 

Elder orphans can reduce these risks by creating their own support structures. For example life care managers, care managers are typically social workers who provide a wide range of services to assist elders as they age.  The care manager visits the elder periodically – be it to bring them to medical appointments, to help them pay bills or even help them choosing where to live.  Beyond coordinating care and assisting them with other tasks, the care managers provide the necessary support to enable clients to age independently.

In conjunction with our care management team, LifeCare Advocates, Pabian & Russell has begun to implement a document called a Caring Committee.  Caring Committees create a team generally comprised of a professional care manager, your health care agent, attorney-in-fact, friends, family and financial or legal advisors to ensure your care needs continue to be met as you age.  Committee members work with clients to understand their wishes and then work together to ensure these wishes are being followed.  This can be especially important for elder orphans.  Generally, the committee would meet once a year.  If the client becomes incapable of fully directing their own care, the committee would meet more frequently, with the client participating as much as possible.  The group develops a plan; the care manager follows up regularly to ensure that it’s being followed.  The committee creates a team of support for those elder orphans who may not have their own network.  The committee is especially important for people without close family.  The committee provides the structured support to avoid the burden of one person serving alone as health care proxy or durable power of attorney.

Although many clients include a trust in their estate plan, elder orphans often include language in their trust directing their attorney to use funds to ensure optimal care and maintain independence even if this is the most expense care option.  A client who is at risk of cognitive decline could also limit their ability to access the trust funds directly as a strategy to protect themselves from elder abuse.

The New York Times article outlines a multi-pronged plan that includes other suggestions such as senior-friendly housing, home-delivered products and phone “Apps” that could be useful for elder orphans.  One application, EyeOn App, signals the elders’ chosen contacts if they do not reply within a half-hour to scheduled cellphone alerts.  Similarly, EverSafe, is a financial security program, which monitors accounts for unusual spending and alerts the client or a trusted advocate of possible fraud.  These tools allow the elder orphans to maintain independence, while simultaneously providing additional protections. 

Through appropriate estate planning documents, the assembly of a team of elder law attorneys and care managers as well as by advancing technology, we can help to ensure these aging elders’ wishes are met and they are protected should they become incapacitated and unable to care for themselves.

For the full articles, see: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/business/elder-orphans-care.html

If you have questions on how this topic may relate to you, please feel free to reach out to our Elder Law department at 617-951-3100.

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