Practice Areas: Labor and Employment, General Municipal
Attorney Brian Maser’s practice focuses on general municipal law, and public sector labor and employment law. In this capacity, he provides counsel to municipalities on labor issues, including compliance with state and federal labor statutes, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Massachusetts Wage Act, and the Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Act. Attorney Maser represents municipalities in labor disputes in state and federal courts, drafts and negotiates successor collective bargaining agreements, drafts and negotiates individual employment agreements, employee settlement agreements and releases, grievance and arbitration settlement documents, conducts investigations relative to employee misconduct and policy compliance, conducts pre-deprivation show cause hearings, advises clients with respect to municipal health insurance issues, including issues facing municipalities as a result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and represents municipalities before the American Arbitration Association, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission, the Department of Industrial Accidents, the Department of Administrative Law Appeals, and the Joint Labor-Management Committee. He also has experience representing school committees in state court and in labor arbitration disputes. Attorney Maser assists clients with a variety of general municipal law issues, including issues surrounding town meetings, municipal charters and by-laws, conflict of interest, public records, the Open Meeting Law, and municipal finance.
Prior to joining the firm in 2005, Attorney Maser represented various public sector labor organizations at the state and municipal level. There, he litigated and arbitrated labor disputes before the Massachusetts Superior court, the American Arbitration Association, the then-Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, and in state and federal courts. Attorney Maser has more than fifteen years of experience representing clients before the various administrative agencies that adjudicate public sector labor and employment law matters.
- Sturbridge Police Association and Town of Sturbridge, AAA# 01-18-0004-0640 (January 2020). The Town terminated a patrol officer following a Department investigation and disciplinary hearing before the Town Administrator, who found that the officer failed to properly investigate a possible violation of a restraining order after a female reported to the officer, in person, that her estranged husband had been near her place of employment, in violation of the order, on several occasions the day before. The female appeared at the Town’s Public Safety Complex on June 27, 2018, and asked to speak to an officer about the restraining order she had taken out against her husband. After the officer spoke with the female, beyond having the dispatcher note the visit in the dispatcher’s log, she did not take any other steps relative to the female’s visit. Two days later, the female was murdered by her husband. When the Chief reviewed Department records and saw that the female had interacted with one of his officers in the days prior to her murder, he directed his lieutenant to conduct an investigation. The investigation found that the officer committed various rules violations relative to conducting investigations. After the officer met with the female in the lobby, she did not properly document the interaction, did not take any steps to investigate the possible violation, and she failed to review relevant Department records concerning the restraining order, which included an arrest report from a prior violation that occurred earlier that month at the same location. Given the officer’s failures and her disciplinary history, which included multiple counselings, warnings, suspensions of varying lengths, and finally, several last chance warnings that were issued in 2014, 2017, and 2018, the Town Administrator found just cause for the officer’s termination. After a four-day hearing and the submission of post-hearing briefs, Arbitrator Sheila Mayberry upheld the officer’s discharge. Arbitrator Mayberry found that the Town had just cause to discipline the officer as the evidence established that she exhibited poor job knowledge and incompetence when she did not conduct a proper interview of the female complainant at the Police Department and failed to conduct a preliminary investigation as required by Department rules. When she analyzed whether there was just cause for the officer’s termination, Arbitrator Mayberry found just cause for the separation given the officer’s well-documented disciplinary history over the prior twelve (12) year period.
- AFSCME, Council 93 and Reading Municipal Light Department, AAA# 01-18-0003-3541 (June 2019). The Department bypassed a first class lineworker for promotion to the position of Leader Lineworker in favor of a first class lineworker with less seniority. After a two-day hearing and the submission of post-hearing briefs, Arbitrator Betty E. Waxman, Esq. found that the Department did not violate the contract when it appointed the junior lineworker following an assessment process that included a written test, a practical test, a Department interview, and peer review. While the Union attempted to show that the Department had historically appointed the senior lineworker to the position of Leader due to their seniority and without an assessment, Arbitrator Waxman found that the plain language of the contract provided the Department with the discretion not only to develop an assessment process for lineworkers, but the Department also had the discretion to promote without regard to seniority, so long as the Department’s promotional decision was not exercised in a manner that was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. At arbitration the grievant presented various excuses for his poor performance in the written and practical tests, all of which the arbitrator found to be not credible in light of the testimony offered by the Department’s witnesses and evidence offered at the arbitration, as a whole. This result was of great importance to the Department as it confirmed the Department’s discretionary authority to promote without regard to seniority and upheld and enforced the Department’s management right to develop and administer an assessment to determine qualifications for promotion.
- Town of Braintree and Braintree Police Officers Association, MCOP, Local 365, Department of Labor Relations Case No. MUP-15-4450. The Town’s patrol officers’ union filed a charge concerning the Police Chief’s decision to reduce minimum staffing levels on weekend day shifts starting in November 2014. The DLR issued a Complaint following an investigation at which the union contended that the Town’s conduct violated a past practice in place between the parties and the change impacted officer workload. Over the course of a three-day hearing, the Town presented evidence that demonstrated the Department had historically increased and decreased minimum staffing levels across the various patrol shifts via written memoranda without providing the union notice and an opportunity to bargain. In response to the union’s proffer that the reduction in staff increased officer workload, the Town offered several years of call data on the weekend day shift that showed officers’ workloads did not increase due to the decrease in weekend day shift staffing. The hearing officer credited the Town’s position, concluded that the union did not establish a violation of either G.L. c. 150E, §§10(a)(5) or 10(a)(1), and dismissed the Complaint. The DLR Decision confirmed and preserved the Chief’s managerial right to determine appropriate staffing levels across the Department’s patrol shifts.
- Shorey v. City of Leominster, Civil Service Commission Case No. G2-12-277. The City bypassed the Appellant, Ms. Kimberly Shorey, for promotion to the position of Sergeant for comments she made about the then-Chief of Police and for her lackluster handling of several calls involving domestic violence. At the time of the bypass Officer Shorey was the only female member of the Leominster Police Department, had implicated the then- Chief in wrongdoing, and had three (3) discrimination charges pending at MCAD. After three (3) days of hearing, however, and despite the Appellant’s attempts to argue that the City’s stated reasons for the bypass were a pretext to continued discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, Cynthia A. Ittleman upheld the City’s reasons for bypass as being sound and sufficient.
- Local 1839, IAFF and Town of Chelmsford, AAA# 11-020-01300-0950. Fire fighters employed by the Town are required to become EMTs within twelve months of their appointment. After several veteran members of the Department allowed their EMT certifications to expire, the Fire Chief placed the fire fighters on unpaid administrative leave pending their becoming recertified. The Fire Union grieved their members’ unpaid status through the grievance steps and demanded arbitration. At arbitration, before Tammy Brynie, Esq., the Town argued that the fire fighters were required to maintain their EMT certifications as a condition of their employment, despite the absence of any contract language setting forth such an on-going requirement, and that the requirement was clear and obvious, not only based upon the conduct of the parties relative to recertification, but the conduct of the grievants’ themselves, in their self-reporting their lapsed certifications to the Department and their letters of apology to the Fire Chief. Arbitrator Brynie agreed, finding that the Town had just cause for taking the action it took and that, based upon the evidence presented by the Town at arbitration, maintaining an EMT certification was a well-known, understood, and long-standing employment expectation of the Town.
- Leominster Patrolmen’s Union and City of Leominster, AAA# 11-390-01559-12. The City terminated a patrol officer in the Police Department after an investigation found that the officer, while off-duty, uttered racial slurs towards an African-American baseball player during a minor league baseball game in New Hampshire. At arbitration, before James M. Litton, Esq., the City argued that the grievance was not arbitrable as the negotiated contract language provided that a disciplinary appeal may only be processed with the Civil Service Commission. The City offered testimony during the hearing that throughout the parties contractual arrangement, all other prior disciplinary sanctions issued by the City had been appealed, if at all, to the Civil Service Commission. Arbitrator Litton ruled in favor of the City on the arbitrability of the Union’s grievance and dismissed it is not arbitrable.
- Tisbury Police Union and Town of Tisbury, AAA# 11-390-02148-11. The Town terminated the employment of a long-standing supervisor in the Police Department following a Department investigation that the supervisor violated various Department policies relative to his response to a domestic violence incident, evidence preservation at the scene, and properly handling a sexual assault allegation. At arbitration, despite a limited disciplinary history, the arbitrator upheld the supervisor’s termination as being for just cause.
- Rooney v. Town of Groton, 577 F.Supp.2d 513. A Town police lieutenant brought suit against town to recover overtime compensation. On summary judgment, the District Court found that the lieutenant satisfied requirements for exemption from overtime pay as an executive employee; the lieutenant also satisfied administrative employee exemption; and the lieutenant was not a first-responder entitled to overtime pay.
- Leominster Patrolmen’s Union and City of Leominster, AAA# 01-14-0001-0336. The City prevailed in arbitration of a dispute with the patrol officers’ union relative to the Police Chief’s decision to place a patrol officer on leave pending a fitness for duty exam and the continuation of the officer’s leave after the officer was found to be unfit for duty. In ruling for the City, the arbitrator credited the Chief’s testimony relative to his reasons for ordering the exam, including his observations of the officer’s diminishing performance and negative comments the officer made to others over the course of several months, and concluded that the Chief’s actions relative to the officer’s leave were at all times reasonable and appropriate.
- AFSCME, Council 93, AFL-CIO v. Burlington School Department, 462 Mass. 1009 (2012). After the Appeals Court vacated an arbitration award that found an employee’s termination grievance to be inarbitrable on jurisdictional grounds, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed and confirmed the arbitrator’s award, finding that the arbitrator had the authority to determine the arbitrability of the grievance while rejecting the union’s argument that the arbitrator exceeded her authority in ruling upon the arbitrability of the grievance without sufficient evidence.
- Massachusetts Bar
- U.S. District Court (Mass.)
Suffolk University Law School
Juris Doctor, 2002
James Madison University
Bachelor of Arts, 1999