Russell Beck in Mass. Lawyers Weekly

Russell Beck was quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on the enforcement of confidentiality agreements against employees.

The article, which appears in the July 11, 2011, issue, covers a recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that could affect employers nationwide. The court ruled that a confidentiality clause in an employment agreement was unenforceable because it would prevent employees from having certain discussions with union representatives. The First Circuit ruled that such clauses can violate the National Labor Relations Act. The article was written by Christina Pazzanese and Thomas E. Egan. A copy of the article is available here and a copy of the First Circuit’s decision can be found here.

Russell is quoted as follows:

Russell Beck, a Boston lawyer who specializes in restrictive covenant litigation, said the ruling has far-reaching ramifications for both employers and employees.

Employers will still be able to require employees to keep the terms of employment or compensation confidential, but they will need to ensure the provisions do not violate the National Labor Relations Act, a relatively easy task that is made more complicated by “ambiguity” in Massachusetts law, Beck said.

“The real issue will be what the consideration is for the agreement,” he said, noting that continued employment is not always viewed by the courts as sufficient to justify changes to agreements with restrictive covenants and can open the door to an “under duress” defense.

The court and the NLRB have not changed from applying a balancing test to a rule of law test; they have simply applied a reasonableness test, which is consistent with pre-existing law, Beck said.

Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Featured on Boston.com

Russell Beck’s award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law, is featured in a recent post by Scott Kirsner, Globe Columnist, in Boston.com’s Innovation Economy.

In Russell’s latest post on Fair Competition Law, he provides a status update on the Massachusetts noncompete bill.  Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Stephen Riden in The Boston Globe on Supreme Court’s First Amendment Ruling

Stephen Riden is featured in a June 28, 2011, Boston Globe story about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. EMA striking down California’s law banning violent video games.  The article is by the Globe’s technology correspondent, Hiawatha Bray.

The article focuses on the impact of the Court’s June 27, 2011, ruling on local game developers

“I have heard a sigh of relief,’’ said attorney Stephen Riden, a partner at Beck Reed Riden LLP in Boston who works with video game companies. Had the California law been upheld, Riden said, game companies would have had to adopt a different strategy for selling their products in the nation’s most populous state. Other states might have passed similar laws, leading to a patchwork of inconsistent and costly regulations.

“It would have changed the way that any local developer would distribute its games,’’ Riden said. “Now it’s not a problem.’’

Click here to read more about the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking First Amendment ruling, including the arguments on both sides, and to download a copy of the decision.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Russell Beck On Noncompete Agreements in Mass. Lawyers Weekly

Russell Beck was quoted in a recent Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article about a lawsuit concerning the enforcement of a noncompete agreement.  The article was written by Eric T. Berkman.  A copy of the article is available here.

In the article, Russell speaks about the challenges judges face in deciding whether to enforce a noncompete agreement:

Russell Beck, … [a] Boston attorney who represents both employers and employees in non-compete litigation, agreed that such matters often come down to the “black hat-white hat” issue.

“Courts are faced with these decisions in a very short timeframe,” said Beck, who practices at Beck, Reed, Riden. “They get a bunch of briefs and affidavits, and if they have a few hours to look at everything, they’re lucky. They really have to make their decision on a gut level, and the perceived conduct of the parties sometimes has a tremendous influence on the outcome of the case, especially where there’s a bad actor in the mind of the court.”

Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden’s Guide for Improving Noncompete Agreements

The current issue of New England In-House Counsel features Stephen Riden’s guide for improving non-compete agreements, called “Taking your non-compete agreement from good to great.”  A PDF version of the article can be downloaded here.

The guide is tailored to assist in-house counsel in crafting robust non-compete agreements.  It provides the basic requirements for an enforceable non-compete agreement in Massachusetts and suggests several provisions that can be added to existing non-compete agreements.

For instance, the article suggests the addition of a provision that can potentially extend the duration of the agreement:

Tolling provision. Say an employee leaves your company but neglects to disclose that they are leaving to work for a competitor in violation of their non-compete agreement. This is not an uncommon scenario. What happens if that breach only comes to light two months later? Assuming that the non-compete agreement has a one-year duration, that would mean the effective duration would be reduced to the 10 remaining months.

However, a clause that extends the duration of the non-compete period for the amount of time that passes before the employer learns that its former employee is engaged in prohibited activity provides additional protection.

The same clause could also toll the non-compete period for the time it reasonably takes the employer to obtain injunctive relief to halt further impermissible competition. In both of these circumstances, the tolling stops the clock for activities beyond the employer’s control and helps to ensure that the employer obtains the full benefit of its non-compete agreement.

It is important to note that, in some states, such a tolling provision can create ambiguities, which militate against its use, while in others, it may suffice to limit its reach, as a court may construe an excessive tolling period as unreasonable.

Click here for the current edition of New England In-House Counsel.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Chambers USA Ranks Russell Beck

Russell Beck was honored in the June 2011 Chambers USA Guide for his litigation and labor & employment experience.

Chambers included Russell in its Notable Practitionerssection, adding that “Russell Beck of Beck Reed Riden LLP is regarded as ‘something of a leader in the noncompetition arena’ by peers and Clients praise his arbitration skills and say he “has the ability to distill the abstract into a powerful, clear and persuasive argument.

Russell was first ranked by Chambers USA in its 2010 guide.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

BRR Celebrates its One Year Anniversary

One year ago today, we started Beck Reed Riden LLP.

We are thankful for the support of our clients, colleagues, friends, and families over the past year.  We look forward to many more years of being Boston’s innovative litigation boutique.

Sincerely,

Russell Beck, Stephen Reed, and Stephen Riden

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Boston College Law School: Law Day

Beck Reed Riden LLP is proud to sponsor BC Law’s 2011 Law Day dinner.  The event was held on April 26, 2011, at the Seaport Hotel, Boston.

Beck Reed Riden LLP congratulates the following Law Day 2011 Honorees for their service as lawyers and dedication to Boston College Law School.

St. Thomas More Award
Mary K. Ryan ’77
Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP

William J. Kenealy, SJ, Alumnus of the Year Award
John F. Bronzo ’74
Pfizer, Inc.

Hon. David S. Nelson Public Interest Law Award
ileta A. Sumner ’90
Family Violence Prevention Services
and
Francis M. O’Boy ’64
Law Offices of Francis M. O’Boy

Recent Graduate Award
Michelle B. Limaj ’07
Foley Hoag LLP

Chapter Awards

Rhode Island
Patricia K. Rocha ’82
Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

Northern California
Molly Agarwal ’06
Miller Law Group
and
Judy Liao ’05
Maranga Morgenstern APLC

Riden quoted in New England In-House on E-discovery

Stephen Riden was quoted in the recent issue of New England In-House in an article about an important electronic discovery decision from the Southern District of New York.  The article was written by Correy E. Stephenson.

In the article, which also appears in the recent issue of Lawyers USA, Stephen spoke about a decision recently issued by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin concerning metadata and the form of production for electronic records.

Scheindlin, a legend in e-discovery circles for her opinions in Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC and The Pension Committee of the University of Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, recently issued an order in National Day Laborer Organizing Network v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, a dispute in a Freedom of Information Act case that offers broader e-discovery lessons.

Stephen D. Riden, a commercial litigator at Beck, Reed, Riden in Boston, said the decision “sets the bar for basic expectations of practicing attorneys.”

“Judge Scheindlin encourages lawyers to go back to the basics and have a 26(f) conference early on and discuss how they want production to look and what format works best for both parties,” he said.

Stephen frequently writes and speaks about commercial litigation issues, including electronic discovery.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Massachusetts SJC Strikes Down Employer’s Wage Deduction Policy

A recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds that an employer may not deduct money from an employee’s paycheck to compensate it for damage the employee has done to its property without running afoul of the Massachusetts Wage Act, G.L. c. 149, § 148.

In Camara v. Attorney General (SJC-10693) (January 25, 2011) (slip opinion here), the Court was faced with the following facts: ABC Disposal Services, Inc. (ABC) provides waste collection and recycling services in the New Bedford, Massachusetts area. Its employees have occasionally caused damage to company trucks and to the personal property of others while driving their routes. In an effort to promote safety and to reduce the number of accidents caused by its employees, ABC established a policy by which employees who were determined to be at fault for causing damage were given the option of either accepting disciplinary action or agreeing to set off the cost of the damage against their wages. Under the policy, determination of an employee’s fault was made exclusively by the company and was not subject to appeal. For those employees who agreed to a setoff, the average amount was between $15 and $30 per paycheck.

Apparently, one or more employees weren’t too happy about the setoff policy because in early 2006 the Attorney General’s office showed up and conducted an audit of payroll deductions for the previous two years. The audit revealed that under its setoff policy, ABC had deducted more than $21,000 from the wages of 27 different employees during the two-year period. Finding that the setoff policy violated the Wage Act, the Attorney General issued a civil citation against ABC, requiring it to make restitution to the employees and pay a civil penalty of almost $9,500. ABC appealed the Attorney General’s finding to the Superior Court, where the judge ruled in ABC’s favor and invalidated the citation.

The SJC reversed the Superior Court. In ruling against ABC, the Court reiterated that the Wage Act – the purpose of which is to protect employees and their right to wages – requires prompt and full payment of wages due an employee. To advance its underlying purpose, the Act prohibits “special contracts” between an employer and an employee by which the employee agrees to accept less than the full amount of wages due. The Court agreed with the Attorney General’s position that under the Act, “regardless of an employee’s agreement, there can be no deduction of wages unless the employer can demonstrate, in relation to that employee, the existence of a valid attachment, assignment, or setoff ….” The Court found that ABC’s setoff policy constituted the type of “special contract” generally prohibited under the Act.

The Court then turned to the question of whether the wage deductions ABC took constituted a valid setoff . The Attorney General argued that valid setoffs “implicitly involve some form of due process through the court system, or occur at an employee’s direction and in the employee’s interests.” In finding that ABC’s deductions were not a valid setoff, the Court held that ABC failed to establish that any of the employees in question were legally liable for damages, or that ABC was legally required to make payments to third parties on behalf of the employees. The Court found that even though the employees agreed to the wage deductions, they did not owe ABC a “clear and established debt,” which is a prerequisite for a valid setoff. The Court was particularly troubled by the fact that ABC was the “sole arbiter” of whether an employee was liable for damage caused to a company truck or to a third party’s property. The Court held that such unilateral decisionmaking, without any appellate process, did not establish that the employees owed ABC a clear and established debt. Consequently, the Court struck down the setoff policy.

The Camara decision is another example of the wage and hour minefield that employers must navigate on a daily basis. Before implementing a policy or procedure that affects employee pay, employers are encouraged to consult with experienced employment counsel.

This article originally appeared in Stephen B. Reed’s site, The Management-Side Lawyer.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

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