Melinda Caterine

Melinda Caterine is a partner in the New England office of the law firm firm Fisher & Phillips. She has practiced in the federal and state courts of Maine and New Hampshire, as well as before a number of federal and state agencies in several New England states, where she has litigated numerous sexual harassment, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge and employment contract dispute cases. In addition, she has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maine School of law where she taught a course on Employment Discrimination. Contact her at

Articles by Melinda Caterine

Benefits, Legal Issues

Connecticut Becomes First State To Mandate Paid Sick Leave

Photo by Dreamstime

By Melinda Caterine

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut has pushed through the first state law in the U.S. requiring private employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave.

Connecticut’s new law, “An Act Mandating Employers Provide Paid Sick Leave to Employees,” goes into effect January 1, 2012. The Act applies to most employers employing 50 or more individuals in the state; manufacturers and tax-exempt organizations that provide recreation, child care, and educational services are exempt.

Covered employers must provide up to 40 hours per year of paid leave to “service workers,” defined in the Act as employees paid on an hourly basis and working in any of 68 occupational titles taken from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification System. Workers exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage and overtime standards (generally, managers, professionals, salespeople, and certain computer professionals) are excluded from coverage, as are day and temporary workers. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Court: Company May Be Liable For Discriminatory Motives Of Non-Decision Makers

Attorney Melinda Caterine of the New England office of labor law firm Fisher & Phillips.

By Melinda Caterine

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an employer may be liable for the discriminatory motives of a supervisor who influences but does not make the ultimate employment decision.

The Court’s March 1 ruling will impact employment discrimination claims where multiple individuals are claimed to have made, caused, or influenced the ultimate employment decision (see Staub v. Proctor Hospital).

The “Cat’s Paw” Theory Of Liability

In employment discrimination claims, plaintiffs must establish that the employer took an adverse employment action based, in whole or in part, on their protected status — such as age, sex or religion among many others.

Employees typically prove their claims by demonstrating that the ultimate decision maker had a discriminatory motive for the employment action. But where the ultimate decision maker is admittedly unbiased, several courts have allowed employees to use a subordinate bias or “cat’s paw” theory of liability to prove their claims. Read more…