Massachusetts Workplace Discrimination Attorney
Representing the Rights of Employees Who Have Been the Victims of Workplace Discrimination
Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, each year, many people are terminated or subjected to other adverse employment action because of their membership in a protected group. Under federal and Massachusetts law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
If you believe that you have the victim of workplace discrimination, you should speak to an attorney immediately. To have an attorney review your case, fill out and submit our online contact form or call our office today.
Massachusetts At-Will Employment Does Not Allow Employers to Discriminate
Massachusetts, like most of the states in this country, has what is known as “at-will employment.” This means that employers have the right to terminate an employee for almost any reason or for no reason at all. Employers are also not required to disclose the reason for an employee’s termination to the employee.
Despite at-will employment laws, employers cannot terminate employees for illegal reasons, such as discrimination. It is a violation of federal law for an employer to discriminate against an employee or a job applicant on the basis of race, sex, national origin, disability, ethnicity, religion or age. Massachusetts has additional protected classes, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and military service.
Adverse Employment Action Based on Discrimination
Your Rights in the Springfield Workplace
You have the right to work in an environment free from discrimination. In Massachusetts, all companies with six or more employees are covered by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits any type of adverse employment action based on protected factors. Some examples of actions that may be discriminatory include the following:
- Refusal to hire
- Undesirable work assignments
- Demotion or pay decrease
- Refusal of promotion or pay increase
- Discriminatory pay
- Discipline that differs from someone not in a protected class
- Harassment and hostile work environment
In addition to protections from the above discriminatory actions, disabled workers have the right to reasonable accommodations that allow them to perform their jobs. For example, if you have a disability but can perform your job if certain reasonable accommodations are made, you have the right to request that these accommodations be made. Furthermore, employees may request accommodations in regard to their sincerely held religious beliefs, such as wearing a headscarf at work or adjusting their schedule to observe religious holidays.
If such accommodations do not pose an undue safety risk or financial burden on the company or its other employees, your company is required to make these accommodations for you. Refusing to make reasonable accommodations for an employee who has requested them is an act of discrimination based on disability or religion, and terminating an employee for requesting reasonable accommodations is an act of wrongful termination.
What Is a Wrongful Termination?
When an employee is terminated for a discriminatory reason or as an act of retaliation, it is considered to be wrongful termination and is one of the most egregious forms of unlawful workplace discrimination. Examples of wrongful termination include:
- Firing an employee for his or her actual or perceived membership in one of the protected classes above, including terminating an employee because of his or her age.
- Firing an employee in retaliation for complaining of discrimination or filing a discrimination or harassment claim.
- An employee is forced to leave the company because of a hostile work environment caused by unlawful harassment or discriminatory acts.
Wrongful terminations are not always obvious. Sometimes, they can be disguised by claiming supposedly legitimate reasons to terminate an employee. For example, claiming an older employee is not performing as expected as a reason to fire her and to fill the position with a younger worker may be an act of age discrimination. Similarly, targeting only employees of certain races or ethnic groups for termination based on past behavior may be an act of discrimination. For example, requiring only employees in certain groups to take drug tests or terminating only employees in these groups for positive results is a form of discrimination. Basically, if an employer’s action can be proved to be tied to the employee’s membership in one of the protected classes above or his or her engagement in a protected activity, the employee may have grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
What to Do if You Are Discriminated Against at Work
If you feel your rights have been violated, the first thing to do is to gather all the evidence you can to support your claim. You will need such evidence to prove that the adverse employment action was based on a discriminatory reason and not due to the pretextual reasons cited by your employer.
You should contact an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible after the discrimination occurs to discuss your options. Your lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you obtain the evidence you need to prove your claims. Evidence you can use to support your claim includes the following and more:
- Your record of the adverse employment action, events leading up to it, and reasons given by your employer
- Your record showing the date the discrimination occurred
- Statements from colleagues about the adverse employment action and circumstances surrounding it
- Statements from your supervisor or any other party involved in the adverse employment action
When you file a claim for wrongful workplace discrimination, your case can be resolved in different ways. Your attorney may be able to reach a settlement with your employer through negotiation or mediation. If you must go to court, you want to ensure you are represented by an attorney with extensive experience in employment litigation. The Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore will always look for the most favorable manner of resolving your case and has the skill and experience to see you through every step of the process—including trial, if necessary.
Call Us Today to Speak with an Experienced Massachusetts Workplace Discrimination Attorney
If you have been illegally discriminated against or wrongfully terminated from a job and suffered financial damages as a result, you have the right to seek compensation for these damages through an employment discrimination claim. To learn more, contact our team of experienced employment lawyers at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore. Contact our Springfield, Massachusetts office today to set up your initial consultation, during which we can advise you of your rights and options to seek compensation. We serve clients throughout the Springfield area and also maintain offices in Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut. You can have an experienced Springfield employment attorney review your case by filling out our online questionnaire or by calling our office today at 413-417-7035.