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KINNE SELECTED WESTERN MASS. LAWYER OF THE YEAR

NAMED TO BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA LIST

August 31, 2020

PITTSFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS – Kevin M. Kinne, of the law firm Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP, has been recognized as Western Mass. Lawyer of the Year for his work in Litigation – Labor and Employment Law.  He also has been named to list of The Best Lawyers in America© 2021.  The individual award and the Best Lawyers list are chosen based only on a peer-review evaluation process.

Kinne was honored for his work in Litigation – Labor and Employment Law.  Kinne regularly advises employers throughout the Berkshires on a broad range of employment law matters including counseling for employee issues, defending against discrimination and harassment claims and drafting employment-related documents.  Kinne is an experienced federal and state court trial attorney who has achieved verdicts and settlements in excess of $20 million for his clients.  Kinne also has been selected as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer for 2020.

Founded in 2009, Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP is one of the Berkshires largest law firms and was chosen as the “Best Law Firm” for the past several years in the The Berkshire Eagle’s Best of the Berkshires poll.

Beth Tully Elected to Downtown Pittsfield, Inc.’s Board of Directors

Cohen Kinne Attorney Beth Tully was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. at its 2020 annual meeting.  Beth joined the firm and moved to the Berkshires in 2019 after beginning her career in Boston.  Her focus is litigation and employment law.  At the meeting, Cohen Kinne partner Jesse Cook-Dubin stepped down as President of the organization after four years of service.  For many decades, the firm has been deeply involved in the economic development mission of the Berkshires.  DPI has been fostering the ongoing growth and vitality of downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts since 1983 by developing strategies and programs, mobilizing resources and supporting the enhancement of a creative, lively, sustainable environment.

Kevin Kinne Appears on WBZ (CBS Boston) to discuss COVID-19 employment law issues.

Boston CBS affiliate WBZ turned to Kevin Kinne to answer important and interesting workplace questions concerning employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Kevin is actively advising a variety of clients about COVID-19 related employment issues.  He has been practicing employment law for over 25 years and is a partner of the firm. 

The WBZ report can be seen here:

ANNIVERSARY STATEMENT

January 1, 2019 marks the Tenth Anniversary of the founding of our law firm.  We chose to mark this date with an anniversary celebration to express our appreciation to the many clients, colleagues, fellow Berkshire County lawyers, friends and family who have contributed to a much greater level of success than we would have dared to dream about in the summer of 2008 when this all began.

We decided to organize a new firm because of our continuing commitment to all of our clients.  The ideals on which the firm was founded include: (1) working within our individual areas of specialty at the highest level available anywhere, (2) establishing great working relationships with members of the Berkshire Bar and lawyers outside the Berkshires, and (3) embracing our passion and spirit for this work.

On January 1, 2009, we started the firm with six lawyers and six staff members. Many have remained and the Firm has doubled in size so that, on our Tenth Anniversary, we have 12 lawyers, and an amazing group of other experienced and capable professionals – all of whom subscribe to the firm’s Service Commitment (and work hard every day for our firm to be the best that it can be):

We know that our clients’ most exciting opportunities and most troubling challenges do not arise just on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 AM to 5:30 PM; and whenever those opportunities or challenges arise, we are determined to immediately respond to our clients’ needs on a 24-7 basis.

We are pleased that we have upheld our Service Commitment throughout the first ten years of our existence.  We are also very pleased that over the ten years we have made three new partners, Christopher M. Hennessey, Dennis G. Egan Jr. and Jesse Cook-Dubin, each of whom has been recognized as among the very best lawyers in Western Massachusetts in his practice specialty.  And we are very proud of our very strong and growing relationships with other Berkshire County lawyers who have regularly turned to us to collaborate on the most difficult matters for their clients.

To our clients, colleagues, fellow Berkshire County lawyers, friends and family: we express our deep appreciation for the good fortune of our success to which all of you have contributed.

American with Disabilities Act: Tardiness, Reasonable Accommodation and the Interactive Process

A Massachusetts federal court judge recently dismissed a claim by an individual against his former employer alleging a violation the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The basis for the employee’s lawsuit was that the employer denied him a “reasonable accommodation” when the employer denied the former employee’s request to start work a half-hour to one-hour later than his scheduled shift. The case is Zavaglia v. Boston University School of Medicine.

The purpose of the ADA is to eliminate discrimination against qualified disabled persons. The ADA defines a disabled individual as (a) having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individuals, (b) having a record of such an impairment, and (c) being regarded as having such an impairment. Under Title 1 of the ADA, all employers are required to evaluate accommodations requested by employees who claim to be disabled and engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine what accommodations the employee is requesting. Each employer must then determine whether the requested accommodation is reasonable without placing an undue hardship on the employer.

In this recent Massachusetts federal court case, the accommodation that the employee requested was to adjust his daily start time by 30 to 60 minutes. The employer determined that the request was not linked to the employee’s disability and was therefore not reasonable. Even though the employee presented a doctor’s note in connection with the requested accommodation, the doctor’s note stated that it was the employee’s opinion, not the doctor’s, that the employee required the accommodation. The accommodation request and the physician’s note also do not explain why (a) the disability required a later start time, and (b) the former employee was unable to address his medical needs prior to the start of his scheduled shift. On those bases, the employer denied the request.

The employee was frequently late to work following the employer’s denial of his request for a later starting time. The employer warned the employee that his frequent lateness was not acceptable, and ultimately terminated the employee’s employment due to tardiness.

The court ruled that the employer’s reasons for not granting the requested accommodation were valid. The former employee did not establish that his request was based on his medical condition and he failed to show that his request was reasonable for the employer. In determining that the request was not reasonable, the court also refused to consider disabilities that the employee claimed to have but did not disclose to the employer prior to termination of his employment. The court declined to find that the termination of the employee’s employment was wrongful, and instead found that the termination was rightfully based on the employee’s frequent tardiness.

Employer takeaways:

An employee who presents a doctor’s note stating the need for a later starting time based on a medical condition is not automatically entitled to start work later under the ADA. The employee still must show that his/her medical condition is a disability and that the demand to create a new shift is reasonable. An employer must engage in an interactive process with any employee requesting an accommodation for a disability. In the course of the interactive process, the employer and employee can evaluate both the basis for the request and the effect of the request on the employer. The ADA does not require that the employer approve all accommodation requests, but that the employer evaluate and make reasonable accommodations to assist disabled individuals in performing the same job functions as non-disabled employees. If the accommodation would impose an “undue hardship” on the employer, the employer is not required to approve it. The term “undue hardship” is defined by the ADA but interpretation varies based on the functions and structure of the employer.

Do you have questions about reasonable accommodations, the interactive process, or what “undue hardship” may mean for your company? Please feel free to contact us info@cohenkinne.com.

Pittsfield & Berkshires No. 1 for arts

The National Center for Arts Research has names Pittsfield and Berkshire County the No. 1 medium sized community in the nation for the arts.  This decision means that Berkshire County is recognized in the top 1% of all communities in the Nation for the arts.  It is wonderful to see our community’s efforts for cultural creativity and our value of the arts, rewarded.

Please see the below article for more information.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/pittsfield-berkshires-1-for-arts,506448