Annual Labor & Employment Conference provides updates in case law, trends in wage enforcement and more

Issue July 2012 By Marc A. D'Antonio, Esq.

The Labor & Employment Section hosted its annual spring conference on May 18 at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston. Conference Co-Chairs Thomas J. Flannagan and Margaret H. Paget provided attendees with an opportunity to listen to substantive panel discussions throughout the day-long event. In addition, conference attendees were treated to a keynote address from Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan.

Panelists covered a variety of topics, including an update on the most important employment law case developments, a discussion of the soon-to-be enacted "Transgender Equal Rights Act," and emerging trends and issues in the areas of wage and hour enforcement and worker misclassification. Additionally, seasoned employment litigators joined Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders in providing attendees with practical tools and tips for improving courtroom advocacy. The day concluded with a panel of commissioners from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, who discussed current trends in employment discrimination law and recent and planned regulatory and procedural changes at the agency.

Keynote speaker Ryan touched on the current state of the relationship between players unions and team owners in professional sports. Now that the NFL and NBA have negotiated new collective bargaining agreements, Ryan indicated that "the NHL will be the next labor negotiation to keep an eye on since the current CBA is set to expire in September of this year." Ryan also spoke about how the influx of statistics and the "fantasy league" culture that has developed over the last decade is taking away from the pure enjoyment of sports.

"With the wealth of information through blogs, social media and talk radio, fans have a forum to express their opinions like never before, making sports columnists dinosaurs," Ryan said.