Massachusetts Statutes Prohibit Certain Types Of Discrimination
In employment, Massachusetts makes certain types of discrimination unlawful. Chapter 151B of Massachusetts General Laws prohibits an employer from treating a group of people unfavorably as to the terms and conditions of his or her employment because of an employee’s race, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, religious creed, handicap, pregnancy, failure to disclose arrests which did not result in conviction or conviction for certain misdemeanors and failure to disclose admission for treatment of mental illness.
Discrimination is about making distinctions in favor of or against a particular thing. Everyone discriminates every day because of the choices they make. However, some discriminations are unlawful.
Statutes Also Limit The Time In Which Employees May Bring A Claim
If you have concerns regarding a possible discrimination situation, immediately contact an employment law attorney to discuss your situation. As with all legal claims, there is a limit of time during which you may sue your employer or former employer for discrimination. This time limit, called a statute of limitations, is short.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you have 300 days to bring both federal and state claims. If you live in another state, your exact statute of limitations will depend on a variety of factors, but it could be as short as 180 days.
Discrimination Under Federal Statutes
The federal government makes discrimination based upon race, sex, national origin, religious creed, or color illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Age discrimination is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
- Disability discrimination is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
- Discrimination based upon pregnancy is prohibited by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”).
- Sexual orientation is not illegal through any federal statute, but often gay/lesbian men and women are protected under federal law through case law.
- Both Title VII and Chapter 151B prohibit sexual harassment.
Discrimination can also take the form of more or less favorable treatment:
- Discrimination based on gender, like a higher salary for a man than for a woman.
- Religious, race or ethnicity discrimination or stereotyping, such as assuming that all black men who apply for a position must undergo a criminal background check on the assumption that most black men have been in prison.
However, an employer can discriminate against an employee for a reason not covered by Chapter 151B. For example, an employer can discriminate against an employee because the employer dislikes the color of the employee’s tie or shirt. An employer can also legally favor friends, relatives or business associates over others as long as this favoritism is not limited by the race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or handicap of one particular group.
Treating Groups Unequally Based On A Protected Class Is Illegal
Most discrimination cases are about “disparate treatment.” This is a legal term which means that a company is accused of treating a particular person(s) in one of the protected groups (an African-American, a woman, or a man over 40 years old) less favorably because of his/her race, sex, age or other protected characteristics.
Another type of discrimination case is called “disparate impact.” These cases are less common. They focus on whether the company has a policy that has intentionally or unintentionally unfairly affected workers from a protected class.
If you have concerns regarding a possible discrimination situation, immediately contact an employment law attorney to discuss your situation. As with all legal claims, there is a limit of time during which you may sue your employer or former employer for discrimination. This time limit, called a statute of limitations, is short. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you have 300 days to bring both federal and state claims. If you live in another state, your exact statute of limitations will depend on a variety of factors, but it could be as short as 180 days.
Unlawful discrimination is not limited to the workplace, though this page does not focus on the other areas, which include but are not limited to: public accommodation, housing and mortgage lending.
Contact Our Law Firm For Answers And Legal Representation
Whether you are concerned about your rights as an employee or have questions about compliance with the law as an employer, we can help. Call our law office in North Reading at 978-276-9051. You can also email our attorneys.