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Governor Signs Bipartisan Pay-equity Legislation

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bipartisan pay equity bill last week, passed unanimously by both legislative branches, to ensure equal pay for comparable work for all Massachusetts workers and equal opportunities to earn competitive salaries in the workplace. The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, state Rep. Ellen Story, state Rep. Patricia Haddad, and members of the Legislature at a signing ceremony in the State House to enact S.2119, An Act to Establish Pay Equity, which will go into effect on July 1, 2018 for Commonwealth employers and employees. “I am pleased to sign bipartisan legislation to create a more level playing field in the Commonwealth and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to earn a competitive salary for comparable work,” Baker said. “I thank the Legislature for unanimously passing this bill and working closely with the business community to support women and families across the state.” Added Polito, “this legislation is an important step toward advancing more equal, inclusive, and thriving workplaces throughout the Commonwealth for women and families.” The new law will prevent pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender. The bill allows employees to freely discuss their salaries with coworkers, prohibits employers from requiring applicants to provide their salary history before receiving a formal job offer, and authorizes the attorney general to issue regulations interpreting and applying the expanded law. Under the new law, employers are permitted to take certain attributes of an employee or applicant into account when determining variation in pay, including their work experience, education, job training, or measurements of production, sales, or revenue. “This new law is an important step toward ensuring economic security for Massachusetts women and families. It makes vital updates that reflect our modern economy and balance the needs of workers and the business community,” said Attorney General Maura Healey, adding that “pay equity is not only a women’s issue, it’s a family issue, and with this new law on the books, we are closer to closing the pay gap in our state.” The statute of limitations laid out currently under the equal-pay statute will be expanded from one to three years, and employees will no longer be required to pursue a general claim of intentional discrimination at the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination before filing a separate equal-pay claim in court.

ABA Bringing Franchise to Springfield This Fall

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Sting will be the first American Basketball Assoc. (ABA) team to call Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, its home when it commences play in November. The organization will boast top talent from the Greater Springfield area and beyond. The Sting will join the ABA’s Northeast Division for the start of the 2016-17 season, alongside teams in Boston, Providence, New York, Long Island, and New Jersey. The franchise will be owned by Zach Baru of Longmeadow. Baru’s past experience in sports and entertainment includes the Springfield Spirit of the National Women’s Basketball League, the Greater Springfield Pro-Am Basketball League, the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, and the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. Dr. Steven Sobel has been hired as the team’s first general manager and head coach. Sobel, a former Division II star at the University of Hartford, has spent more than 40 years coaching collegiate and professional basketball teams and players. During the offseason, he helms the Springfield Slamm of the Greater Hartford Pro-Am Basketball League. Sobel is also a nationally recognized motivational speaker and author of The Good Times Handbook: Your Guide to Positive Living and Exciting Life. “We are excited to bring professional basketball back to the city of Springfield. With Dr. Sobel at the helm, and potential supporters already reaching out, the possibilities for success here in the community are endless,” Baru said.

Free Legal Assistance Available to Small Businesses

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University Small Business Legal Clinic is now accepting applications from entrepreneurs and small-business owners seeking legal assistance for the fall 2016 semester. Under faculty supervision, law students assist clients with legal issues, including choice of entity, employment policies, contract drafting, regulatory compliance, and intellectual-property issues relating to trademark applications and copyright. This is a free service available to local businesses that would not otherwise have the resources to obtain these types of services. The Small Business Clinic at Western New England School of Law has assisted more than 300 small businesses. By using the clinic’s services, businesses can avoid problems by getting legal issues addressed early and correctly. It also provides students with an opportunity to get real-world experience. The Small Business Legal Clinic asks small-business owners to submit their applications by Monday, Aug. 15. Applications received after that date will be considered if additional resources are available. Students will begin providing services in September. For more information, call the clinic at (413) 782-1469 or e-mail [email protected].

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