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Retaliation In The Workplace – Do You Have A Case?

Massachusetts Employment Law, along with federal statutes, provides relief and protection for employees who are facing an act of retaliation from coworkers and/or employers. A claim must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). However, it is important to make sure you have your facts straight before you make such a claim and take on your employer.

First of all, it is necessary to have a good understanding of what retaliation is and how it is viewed under Massachusetts law. Retaliation occurs when employers or other employees take measures to subject you to negative experiences related to your job because you complained about discrimination at about work or you supported another employee who complained.

Examples of retaliation include:

  • Taking available working hours away from you and giving them to someone else
  • Cutting your pay
  • Removing bonuses
  • Uncalled-for reprimands
  • Wrongful termination

Retaliation is different from harassment and requires different proof. While Massachusetts law does provide for employer accountability and protection against retaliation, it is important that you have sufficient proof to substantiate your claim. You must be able to prove:

  • That you engaged in protected activity, such as filing a complaint or participating in someone else’s complaint (supported them or acted as a witness).
  • That your employer took a negative action against you.
  • That the reason your employer acted in a negative way towards you was due to your protected activity. Often, the key here is to show that the supervisor was aware of your engaging in the protected activity before he took the adverse employment action against you.

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Employment Law: Know Your Disability Rights in Massachusetts

According to a recent U.S. Census, about 20 percent of Americans have a disability. Many Americans with disabilities are talented workers who are valuable additions to the workplace. However, sometimes employers and coworkers fail to recognize the value people with disabilities can bring to the workplace.

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) is federal legislation designed to counteract this bias and protect the rights of the disabled in the workplace. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. A disability is defined broadly as any mental or physical impairment that limits at least one major life function. Further, people who have a history of having a disability or who are erroneously perceived as having a disability, such as people who have HIV, are also deemed to be disabled under the ADA.

Workers are deemed to be qualified to perform a job under the ADA, if they meet the educational and other requirements for the job and they can perform the job duties with or without reasonable accommodations. For instance, the ADA would prohibit an employer from failing to hire a visually-impaired clerical worker solely based on her disability, if she can perform her tasks adequately with a magnifying glass or other visual aid. Once hired, the ADA would prohibit the employer from other types of discrimination based on the disability, such as failing to promote the employee or paying her less than employees who are not disabled. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Employment Law -The Whistleblower

What is a Whistleblower?

A Whistleblower is a person who brings violations of the law to the attention of the appropriate enforcement authorities. But that’s risky, isn’t it? If you report that your employer is not following safety, reporting or other standards, he can just fire you, can’t he?

As a society, we value whistleblowers. We need to have people willing to stand up and report these dangerous violations. That’s why, in 1989, Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (Pub. L. 101-12, as amended). Amendments in 2012 with the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (Pub. L. 112-199) added stronger protections.

What Protection Do I Have?

These two laws offer protection from any type of retaliatory action against the whistleblower. What does this mean in practical terms? Essentially, it means that, if you report any illegal activities of your employer or any other agency or organization, that employer, agency or organization cannot deny you services, promotions, raises, the opportunity to do business nor can it punish, or attempt to punish, you in any other way. [Read more…]

Employment Law: Massachusetts Sick Leave Law Now In Effect

If you work in a company of 11 or more people, you are now entitled to paid sick leave. The law became effective on July 15, 2015, and it requires that you receive one hour of paid leave for every thirty hours worked. According to the statute, you may use this time for yourself, your spouse, child, parent or parent – in –law for issues such as:

  • Medical treatment for physical or mental illness;
  • Conditions that require home care for special needs
  • Preventative medical care;
  • Routine medical appointments; or
  • Physical or legal issues concerning domestic violence.

In most instances, you do not have to produce documentation, or a “doctor’s note”, unless you are absent for more than 24 hours. [Read more…]

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Massachusetts

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Massachusetts depends on a few factors. One first should take note of the Federal Laws that have been put in place to protect America’s workforce from wrongful termination. Discrimination comes in many forms; namely, race, color, age, disability, religion, equal pay, sex or sexual harassment, and pregnancy. Be aware wrongful termination comes in many forms that are not limited solely to discrimination.

Each state in the United States has enacted particular policies to protect individuals from wrongful or discriminatory termination of employment. When discussing Massachusetts wrongful termination laws, one should take note that Massachusetts is an At-Will state. This means an employee can decide to end employment at a facility at any time with no questions asked; in turn, an employer can terminate an employee at any time without providing reason for termination. [Read more…]