Sharon P. Siegel
Sharon is of counsel in the firm’s Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Group. She advises private and public sector employers on a broad range of human resource-related issues, including the hiring and termination of employees, leaves of absence, disciplinary matters and reductions in force. She counsels management on Massachusetts and federal employment laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act and Massachusetts wage and hour laws. Sharon frequently assists clients with the drafting of job applications, offer letters, employee handbooks and personnel policies, as well as employment agreements and severance agreements.
Sharon has particular expertise in the area of collective bargaining and has successfully negotiated many contracts with unions representing police officers, firefighters, teachers and other public sector bargaining unit employees. She represents clients through the grievance and arbitration process and defends them against unfair labor practice charges before the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations.
Sharon is also a member of the firm’s Public Education Law Group. She advises school districts on student discipline matters, student handbooks, and student record issues. She also provides school clients with advice concerning personnel matters, including workplace misconduct investigations, managing employees with medical conditions, and the non-renewal of teachers without professional teacher status. In addition, she provides school committees advice on general governance issues, including compliance with the Open Meeting Law and executive session requirements, the state conflict of interest law, and the public records law. Sharon is a member of the Massachusetts Council of School Attorneys and the National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys.
Bar & Court Admissions
- U.S. District Court for Massachusetts
- University of Maine School of Law JD (1993)
- College of the Holy Cross BA (1987)
- Represented clients in wage and hour investigations by Attorney General’s Office
- Successfully defended municipality at Department of Labor Relations against unfair labor practice charge by police union alleging failure to bargain in good faith
- Obtained lack of probable cause finding from MCAD against police officer’s claim of discrimination based on disability and military status
- Obtained dismissal from Department of Labor Relations of unfair labor practice charge by union alleging school district denied employee access to union representation during investigatory process
- Obtained dismissal from MCAD of claim by teacher alleging discrimination on basis of age
- Represented school districts in investigations by US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights against allegations of discrimination on basis of disability
- Conducted workplace investigations involving allegations of employee misconduct
- Negotiated numerous collective bargaining agreements on behalf of public sector clients
- Represented public sector clients in employee termination hearings
- Represented public and private sector clients in protracted negotiations involving employee separations
- Sharon has given presentations on the Fair Labor Standards Act, employer record keeping and retention, the contingent workforce, conducting investigations in the workplace, vicarious employer liability for unlawful harassment by supervisors, employee handbooks, the hiring and firing process, privacy in the workplace, discipline of teachers and other school personnel, and student discipline.
- She has published a number of articles for the newsletter of the Human Resources Management Association for Central Massachusetts, including the following:
“Extended Closure due to COVID-19 Raises Multiple Issues for Schools,” Mirick O’Connell Client Alert (March 30, 2020)
- "U.S. Department of Labor Reminds Employers: Military Service Counts toward FMLA Eligibility"
- "Employer Obligations With Respect to Military Leave"
- "Non-Union Employees' Rights at Investigatory Interviews"
- "Investigating Complaints of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace"
- "Recent Amendments to the Massachusetts Wage Enforcement Laws"
- "The New EEO-1 Reporting Requirements and Their Impact on Data Collection by Employers"
- "Same-Sex Marriage and What It Means for Employers in Massachusetts"
- "Burden of Proof Shifts to Employers in Age Discrimination Cases"
Professional / Community Affiliations
- Massachusetts Council of School Attorneys
- National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys
- American Bar Association
- Massachusetts Bar Association
- Worcester County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section; co-chair, Labor and Employment Law Section, 2006-2007
Employers Must Ensure Compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act as they Re-Open and Recall Employees from Furlough
The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued new Questions and Answers regarding its interpretation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). In relevant part, the DOL made clear that if an employer is calling employees back from furlough, the …[ load webpage to read more ]
Update: Families First Coronavirus Act
The Department of Labor issued new guidance over the weekend regarding the Families First Act, including important definitions and clarifications. I broke down the new guidance into the overall framework of the new EFMLA and EPSLA in this recorded webinar. …[ load webpage to read more ]
Department of Homeland Security Relaxes Standards for Verifying Work Authorization
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security has relaxed its standards requiring in-person review of work authorization documents required to complete the I-9 form. Specifically, if an employer has no employees physically present at a …[ load webpage to read more ]
Congress Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 18, 2020, Congress passed a bill entitled “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (the “Act”) aimed at alleviating several major burdens families are currently facing as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Act, which goes into effect on …[ load webpage to read more ]
Executive Order Loosens Open Meeting Law Requirements During Coronavirus Emergency
Governor Baker signed an Executive Order relieving government boards and committees from compliance with certain Open Meeting Law requirements during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The Order gives public bodies greater leeway to hold closed-door and remote meetings, so that government agencies …[ load webpage to read more ]
The Coronavirus and Its Impact on the Workplace
With cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) significantly on the rise, the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, and Governor Baker recently declaring a state of emergency in the Commonwealth, employers should be prepared to address a number …[ load webpage to read more ]
NLRB Issues Employer-Friendly “Joint Employer” Definition
On February 25, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB”) announced the final rule governing “joint employer” status under the National Labor Relations Act. The determination of whether an entity is a “joint employer” with a direct employer for purposes …[ load webpage to read more ]
Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Devices Went into Effect Yesterday
On November 25, 2019, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2019. Under this Act, operators of motor vehicles cannot use handheld electronic devices while driving. The Act specifically holds that no operator of a motor vehicle shall …[ load webpage to read more ]
U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Updates Joint Guidance on the Applicability of FERPA and HIPAA to Student Records
The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued an update to their Joint Guidance on the Applicability of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and …[ load webpage to read more ]
U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule on Joint Employer Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
On January 12, 2020, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its final rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) governing joint employer status, which significantly narrows the scope of joint employer liability. Under the prior Administration, the DOL …[ load webpage to read more ]