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November 10, 2016
With Veterans' Day Approaching, Employers Should Be Aware of New Veterans' Rights
With Veterans' Day fast approaching on November 11, 2016, Massachusetts employers should reacquaint themselves with recent changes in the law concerning veterans' rights.  Effective July 14, 2016, the Veterans Leave Statute was amended to require public and private employers to provide leave of sufficient duration for veterans "to participate in a Veterans Day or a Memorial Day exercise, parade or service . . . in their community of residence . . . ."  The statute requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide such leave with pay on Veterans Day, but not Memorial Day. Generally, under the statute, a veteran is defined as any person with an honorable discharge who served in any branch of the U.S. military or who served full-time in the National Guard under certain conditions for a minimum of 90 days' active service, at least one day of which was for wartime service.  In addition, any person who served in wartime and was awarded a service-connected disability or Purple Heart, even if such service was less than 90 days' active service, is also a qualifying veteran.  The law, however, permits employers to deny such time off for those "employees whose services are essential and critical to the public health or safety and determined to be essential to the safety and security of each such employer or property thereof."  Prior to this amendment, no employers were required to provide paid leave, only unpaid leave, for participation in Veterans Day and Memorial Day events.

In addition, effective the same day as the amendment to the Veterans Leave Statute, the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, G.L. c. 151B, was amended to provide that employees' "veteran status" is now a protected class under the statute.  As such, discrimination against employees on the basis of veteran status is prohibited. 

If you have any questions on these new law changes, please feel free to contact us.


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Mirick O'Connell is a full-service law firm with offices in Worcester, Westborough and Boston, Massachusetts.  The Firm's principal practice groups include Business;
Construction Law; Creditors' Rights, Bankruptcy and Reorganization; Elder Law; Family Law and Divorce; Health Law; Intellectual Property; Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits; Land Use and Environmental Law; Litigation; Personal Injury; Public and Municipal Law; and Trusts and Estates.
This client alert is intended to inform you of developments in the law and to provide information of general interest.  It is not intended to constitute legal advice regarding a client's specific legal issues and should not be relied upon as such.  This client alert may be considered advertising under the rules of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.