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The Law Offices of Samuel S. Reidy Blog

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Protections for Massachusetts Employees from Employer's Retaliation and Termination

Massachusetts is a an at-will employment state, meaning that employees can typically be fired at any time for any reason.  However, there are several important exceptions to this general rule which are important for employees who have been let go (or are in fear of being terminated from their employment) to know about.

First, there are certain protected activities under the Common Law that an employee cannot be fired because he or she engaged in said activity.  These activities including: (1) asserting a legal right (such as taking vacation time or filing a workers' compensation action), (2) fulfilling a legal duty (such as attending jury duty), (3) reporting criminal wrongdoing, (4) refusing to commit illegal acts (such as embezzling or committing perjury), and (5) cooperating in a criminal investigation of the employer or the employee's superiors.  Generally speaking, if an employee is engaged in these protected activities the employer cannot terminate him or her for doing so.

Second, there are Statutory Protections for employees which prevents them from being terminated.  Here, employees who engage in protected activities under laws in the following subject areas are protected from retaliation:

  1. Age Discrimination - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 149, § 24F, an employee cannot be terminated in retaliation for making a complaint or testifying regarding age discrimination.
  2. Asbestos - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 149, § 6D, an employee may not be fired (or penalized in any way), for filing a complaint concerning the health and safety of workers who handle asbestos.
  3. Disabled Persons Abuse - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 19C, § 11, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for making a report or providing information to the Disabled Persons Protection Commissions.
  4. Discrimination - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 151B, § 4(4), an employee cannot be fired (or discriminated against in any way) due to the employee's race, color, religious creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, genetic makeup, or ancestry.
  5. Equal Pay - Under, Massachusetts General Laws c. 149, § 105B, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for filing or reporting a claim of wage discrimination on the basis of sex.
  6. Hazardous Substances - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 111F, § 13, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for filing a claim regarding violation of Massachusetts' hazardous substance laws.
  7. Medical Profession Abuse - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 119, §51A and Massachusetts General Laws c. 111, §72G, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for reporting abuse in the medical profession, especially if said abuse is towards patients, the elderly, or children. In fact, under many professions, it is a legal requirement to report abuse (this is seen primarily in the education profession).
  8. Minimum Wage - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 151, § 19, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for making a complaint concerning minimum wage laws.
  9. Public Employees - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 149, § 185, a Massachusetts state employee may not be fired in retaliation for reporting a violation of law or a threat to public health and safety.
  10. Wage and Hours - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 149, § 148A, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for filing a complaint concerning a violation of Massachusetts' Wages and Hours Laws.
  11. Workers' Compensation - Under Massachusetts General Laws c. 152, § 75B, an employee may not be fired in retaliation for exercising workers' compensation rights.

If you, or someone you know, have any questions or think you may have been unjustly fired or punished for engaging in one of the above protected activities, please contact the Law Offices of Samuel S. Reidy for a free consultation.





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