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Frequently Asked Questions about Workplace Discrimination in Massachusetts Answered by an Amesbury Discrimination Lawyer

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My boss treats me unfairly. I don’t think she likes me and I think she favors other employees over me. Is this discrimination in Massachusetts?

These facts by themselves do not necessarily rise to the level of discrimination. They may constitute discrimination, but it would depend on any additional facts. There are a lot of bad managers out there who can get away with their poor people skills because there is no general law against being “mean” to employees. However, when bad behavior involves distinguishing between employees based on a legally “protected class,” an employee may prevail on a discrimination claim. For example, a female employee may prevail on a discrimination claim if she can show that she was disciplined at work for conduct, but male employees were not disciplined for the same conduct. Similarly, an employee with a disability may prevail on a discrimination claim if he/she can demonstrate that the employer was not offered work that was offered to others because of assumptions about the employee’s limitations.

Does this mean that an employer can never treat two employees differently from each other?

No. An employer does not always have to treat all employees in the same manner. There are some acceptable justifications for treating two employees differently. For example, when one employee is not performing the essential job functions well, but another employee is a high performer, the latter employee may be favored when the time comes to promote one of them.

Does this mean that anytime an employer fires me and says it’s because I’m a low performer, that I don’t have a Massachusetts discrimination claim?

No. Employers may use such a justification to dispute a claim of discrimination, but if the employee can show that such a justification is only a “pretext,” the employee may win. In other words, what an employer says is the reason for any “adverse action” against you is not the same as their true intentions.

You mentioned “protected classes.” What exactly are the protected classes?

Massachusetts law provides more protections than does Federal Law. The protected classes under Massachusetts law are race, color, religious creed, national origin, genetic information, ancestry, age, military service, handicap, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and (with some nuances) criminal record. Federal law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the private sector.

Are all employers covered by these laws?

No. Some employers are not covered by certain laws because of the type of employer or size. If you think you have a claim, you should not make this determination on your own because the answer is not always clear. You should consult a qualified attorney who can do this research and advise you of your rights.

Do you have to be in a certain subcategory of a protected class to make a valid discrimination claim? For example, can only women bring sex discrimination claims?

No. The protected classes are broad classes. They were not written to provide protections for individuals of only one gender or one race. Any individual may have a valid claim based on one of the protected classes, if there are sufficient facts to support the claim.

What is the time limit to make a discrimination claim in Massachusetts?

Most discrimination claims must be filed at either the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before they can be filed in court. You generally have 300 days to make a claim to either agency in Massachusetts. If the MCAD dismisses your claim, you must file in court at least 30 days after dismissal and within three years of the alleged discrimination. If the EEOC dismisses your claim, you must file in court at least 60 days after you filed with the EEOC and within 90 days of receiving the notice that the investigation is concluded.

Find out Your Rights as a Discriminated against Person under Massachusetts and Federal Law from Our Discrimination Lawyer in Amesbury, Hudson, or Revere

In our Amesbury MA office our employment lawyer, Attorney Santino is ready to meet with future clients from Amesbury, Georgetown, Merrimac, Newburyport, Haverhill, Lawrence, Rowley and all the other communities of the Merrimac Valley and the North Shore.

From our Hudson MA office, Attorney Santino serves the Metro West area including: Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough, Sudbury, Stow, and Westboro.

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Take action today! Call us at 978-388-1100 for a free consultation. We can arrange after-hours appointments or meet clients off-site when necessary.  We are determined to provide attorney access to  all of our clients.

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