Labor and Employment

Whether you are a business owner looking to comply with the ever-changing landscape of employment law, or the aggrieved employee of a Fortune 500 corporation, the attorneys at MIRAGEAS & AVERY, LLC are able to efficiently resolve labor and employment disputes as they arise in the workplace, while preventing others from ever taking place.  Attorney Ryan P. Avery is experienced in the areas of employment contract drafting and negotiation, human resources training, mediation, arbitration and litigation in the state and federal courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as before specialized state agencies such as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Our office is committed to reaching a fair, practical and economically efficient solution to every labor and employment issue faced by clients in today’s workplace.  We are often able to prevent individual and corporate clients from incurring massive legal fees through one or two brief rounds of counseling or sensible negotiation.  If we proceed to litigation, we will seek all applicable remedies, including any allowable statutory or liquidated damages and attorney’s fees.

Areas of Focus:

  • Employment Contract and Policy Drafting
    • Human Resources/Employee Handbooks and Manuals
    • Severance Agreements
    • Non-Competition and Confidentiality Agreements
    • Performance Improvement Plans
    • Requests for Accommodation
    • Family Medical Leave Act/Corporate Leave Policies
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Wrongful Termination Claims:
    • Breach of Contract
    • Retaliation
    • Sexual Harassment
    • Whistleblower Suits
  • Employee Misclassification/Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute

Employment Contracts

Whether you are seeking to subcontract a specific aspect of your business, or protect the dissemination of your confidential business information, an unambiguous written contract is a must-have.  We regularly assist our corporate clients with drafting essential employee and contractor agreements including but not limited to:

  •  1099 Independent Contractor Agreements;
  •  Personnel handbooks
  •  Employee non-competition and non-solicitation agreements
  •  Employee confidentiality and non-disclosure policies;
  •  Employee severance and settlement agreements

Employment Contract Blogs:

“Make No Bones” About Protecting Confidential Business Information

Trade Secrets Part II:  Does “Non-Disclosure” Ever Mean “Non-Compete”?

Wage and Hour Claims

Both state and federal law imposes harsh civil and criminal penalties on employers who fail to pay wages due to employees within statutorily-prescribed periods of time, including the payment of treble (3X) damages and attorney’s fees to successful claimants.  Unique questions consistently arise pertaining to the applicability of these wage and hour statutes, such as the availability of any overtime pay exemptions enumerated within the Massachusetts Wage Act and the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA); the necessity of compensating employees for “travel time,” or “on-call time,” and whether or not certain payments (i.e. commissions, bonuses, “comp time,” severance pay) are included within the definition of “wages” at all.

Attorney Ryan P. Avery has represented clients in connection with claims involving these issues and others, including the successful defense and prosecution of class action wage and hour suits in the state courts of Massachusetts.  Typically, Attorney Avery’s experienced representation will result in the expedient resolution of such matters shortly after a complaint has been filed.  However, Attorney Avery has also achieved superior results when compelled to actively litigate the claims asserted.

As a recent example, our office secured the dismissal of a class action claim for violation of state and federal overtime law by successfully proving that the plaintiffs and their co-workers were drivers engaged in interstate commerce between Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and therefore exempt from the law’s reach, thereby saving our client (a Central Massachusetts hauling and disposal business) an estimated $250,000 in damages.

Wage and Hour Blogs:

“Five Types of Wage Deductions that Employers Should Always Avoid”

Wrongful Termination Claims

Our office counsels and intelligently represents employers and employees – both public and private, union and non-union –  in workplace disputes that have resulted or may soon result in termination proceedings.  Broadly speaking, the phrase “wrongful termination” can apply to situations where either (1) the employee is alleging that (s)he has been terminated in violation of an employment or union contract, or (2) the employee is alleging that (s)he has been terminated on some other impermissible basis under the law, such as :

  • Discrimination against the employee, or a close family member thereof, based on their membership within a protected class (race, gender, disability, religious   belief, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.);
  • Retaliation for filing a complaint of discrimination, or otherwise reporting employment  discrimination in the workplace;
  • Retaliation for filing a complaint for unpaid wages;
  • Reporting illegal activity in the workplace or refusing to engage in illegal activity requested by the employer
  • Requesting medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA);
  • Filing a claim for worker’s compensation benefits.

Since 2010, Attorney Ryan P. Avery has successfully prosecuted and defended claims for wrongful termination, representing clients before state and town personnel boards; at private mediation and arbitration hearings; and in litigation matters throughout the state and federal courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Discrimination

Employment discrimination remains one of the most heavily-litigated areas of the law – over 3,000 claims for discrimination and associated acts taken in retaliation for filing complaints of discrimination are filed each year within the Commonwealth.  The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is the administrative agency within the Commonwealth charged with investigating and conducting hearings on claims of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.  Aggrieved employees may also remove their complaints to state or federal court, and one such suit is filed almost every day in the courts of Massachusetts.

Attorney Ryan P. Avery has a detailed knowledge of state and federal anti-discrimination law, and can efficiently navigate clients to a successful resolution of complaints for discrimination of any type.  Attorney Avery has represented clients in connection with discrimination actions in United States District Court, Massachusetts Superior Court, and at the MCAD.  He has also participated in mediations – nearly all successful – at the MCAD, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and before private mediators selected by the parties.

In addition to his sound ability in analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of potential claims and defenses, Attorney Avery prides himself on the ability to guide his clients throughout these often-emotional matters.

Discrimination Blogs:

“Massachusetts Retaliation Statute Protects Complaints Regarding Harassment of Co-Workers”

“Guilty By Association: Understanding Indirect Employment Discrimination”