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Employment discrimination occurs when employers treat workers differently based on certain attributes unrelated to job performance. Not all classifications qualify for protection against discrimination in the workplace.

Under Massachusetts law (G.L. Ch. 151B) and various federal statutes, it is illegal for an employer, an employment agency, or a labor organization (such as a union) to discriminate against someone based on his or her:

  • race,
  • color,
  • religion,
  • national origin,
  • sex (including pregnancy),
  • age (age 40 or older),
  • physical or mental disability or handicap,
  • gender identity,
  • sexual orientation,
  • genetic information, or

Assuming a protected classification is involved, many types of conduct can be found to be discriminatory, including decisions to hire, terminate, or promote. Employers cannot discriminate when imposing work conditions or privileges, or when determining pay, bonus, or time off. Workplace discrimination can also take the form of harassment, or retaliation for reporting improprieties or exercising a legal right.

Family Responsibility Discrimination

Family Responsibilities Discrimination, or caregiver discrimination, is employment discrimination against employees based on their family caregiving responsibilities. Pregnant women, mothers and fathers of young children, and employees with aging parents or sick spouses or partners can experience family responsibilities discrimination. Family responsibilities discrimination affects men and women across all income levels and employers in every industry. Cases have included grocery clerks, nurses’ aides, administrative assistants, teachers, police, firefighters, as well as lawyers, doctors, and executives. If you have been rejected for hire, passed over for promotion, demoted, harassed, or terminated — despite good performance — because of your family responsibilities, we may be able to help.

Disability Discrimination

The law protects employees who are disabled from unfair job actions and harassment. The law further requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations that will permit handicapped employees to perform their work duties, or experience the opportunities that other people have in the workplace. Employers may be required to provide medical leave, accommodate time out for doctor’s appointments, modify the work site to make it accessible, and in some case, even transfer the employee.

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits qualified employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period as medical leave for themselves, or as family leave if the worker needs to care for certain family members, or for the birth or adoption of a child. Under most circumstances, the Act requires that your employer return you to your position when you return from FMLA leave.

We can help if you need to apply for FMLA leave; if you have been denied leave to which you believe you are entitled; if your employer refused to return you to your position after returning from FMLA leave; or if you have suffered retaliation or discrimination for taking leave.