You deserve to be given the same opportunities and to be treated with the same respect as everyone else at your company. After being passed over for a promotion several times, not getting the raises you deserved, or being fired for no apparent reason, you are starting to realize that these decisions have nothing to do with your performance, experience, or potential. As a person of color, a woman, or a member of another protected class, you suspect you are a victim of discrimination. You don’t have to accept this kind of treatment. Workplace discrimination is illegal in Massachusetts and across the country, and your employer can be held accountable.
Employees Must File A Discrimination Claim within 300 Days or Lose Their Rights
You must file a claim of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to start your case. This filing, called a "charge," is mandatory by law. You only have 300 days from the last act of discrimination to file a claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD"). Many victims of discrimination and sexual harassment contact us too late after this important 300 day legal deadline has passed.
Also, waiting until you are at or near the 300 day deadline to file a claim with MCAD can seriously limit what claims of discrimination can be included in your case. Although we can sometimes attempt to claim that there was a "continuing violation" where individual acts of harassment built up over time into full blown, legally actionable bad conduct, filing sooner rather than later is the best way to preserve your claims.
Don't Wait - You Can Easily Miss This Important Legal Deadline.
Contact Our Dartmouth Office for Informed Advice
You may not know who to turn to when you are the victim of workplace sexual harassment. You might not trust anyone at your company to be on your side. Attorney Carlin Phillips wants to hear your story. If he thinks you have a legitimate case of sexual harassment, he will help you take the next steps. We work on behalf of clients throughout Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties. Contact us today.
Who Is Protected From Discrimination in Massachusetts?
Under both state and federal law, members of certain groups who have been historically marginalized are protected from unfair treatment in the workplace. Under federal law, only companies with 15 or more employees are subject to anti-discrimination laws. But Massachusetts extends coverage in most cases to employees of companies with six or more employees. Protected characteristics in Massachusetts include:
- Race or ethnicity
- Skin color
- Gender identity
- Religious creed
- National origin
- Mental illness
- Military status
- Citizenship status
If you believe you've been discriminated against because of one or more of these characteristics, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer.
What Is Employment Discrimination?
Any unfavorable treatment directed at an employee who is a member of a protected class could be considered a violation of the employee’s rights under anti-discrimination laws. Discriminatory actions usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Employment decisions. The law prohibits employers from making hiring, firing, demotion, promotion, or other decisions based on a person’s membership in a protected class. For example, if a man is promoted over a woman with equal qualifications, that could be considered discrimination.
- Discriminatory policies. Workplace policies and practices that only negatively impact certain people may be considered discriminatory. Not allowing the wearing of hats or head coverings, for example, unfairly discriminates against employees who wear head coverings for religious reasons.
- Harassment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is considered a form of gender discrimination. Both opposite-sex and same-sex harassment are recognized in Massachusetts.
- Retaliation. You have a right to report illegal, hazardous, or unfair conditions in your workplace. If you are fired, suspended, or demoted for doing so, you can file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer.
While you might feel that the discrimination you have suffered is obvious, you'll have to prove a number of claims for a successful lawsuit. An employment discrimination attorney can provide invaluable guidance in pursuing these claims.
Proving Workplace Discrimination
Simply being unhappy with decisions or policies in your workplace is not enough to prove that your employer broke the law and violated your rights. Working with an attorney, you'll need to show all of the following to win a discrimination lawsuit:
- You are a member of a protected class.
- You are qualified for the job in question or are meeting your employer’s reasonable expectations.
- Your employer took unfavorable action against you.
- Your employer treated someone outside your protected class more favorably or replaced you with a person not in a protected class.
It isn't easy to prove these kinds of claims against an employer, but we can help you gather the evidence you need to build a strong case.
Contact Our Dartmouth Office for Information About Protecting Your Rights
You may not know who to turn to when you are the victim of workplace discrimination. Your supervisor and human resources department many times don't help you. Contact us today to discuss your options. We work on behalf of clients throughout Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties.