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In Massachusetts, there are laws that protect employees for asserting their legal rights in the workplace. There are both common law and statutory protections. These protections are very important because Massachusetts is an “at-will” employment state, which means that most employers may generally terminate an employee at any time for any reason or for no reason. However, over the course of history, many exceptions to the general rule have developed. As such, it is important to know your rights to ensure that you are being treated properly.

Massachusetts Statutory Law

Under Massachusetts statutory law, the legislature has proclaimed that employees who engage in protected activities such as filing a workplace related complaint or testifying against an employer are protected from retaliation in the following subject areas: asbestos, disabled persons' abuse, discrimination (including age discrimination), hazardous substances, medical professionals witnessing abuse of patients/residents or children, minimum wage, wage discrimination on the basis of sex, wages and hours, and workers' compensation. Additionally, Massachusetts has a statute that protects public employees.

Massachusetts Common Law

Under Massachusetts common law, an employee may not be discharged in retaliation for performing a protected activity. For intents and purposes of what constitutes a “protected activity,” Massachusetts courts have recognized the following:

  • Asserting a legal right (such as filing a nonpayment of wage and workplace complaint with the Mass. Attorney General)

  • Fulfilling a legal duty (such as serving on a jury)

  • Refusing to commit illegal acts (such as committing perjury)

  • Cooperating in a criminal investigation of the employer

  • Reporting criminal wrongdoing to individuals within the company

Have I Been Retaliated Against?

A classic example of retaliation is as follows. An employee does not believe that employer is paying required overtime, so the employee asks the employer about the situation. In response, the employer cuts the employees hours. Under Massachusetts law, this WOULD amount to illegal retaliation, which would entitle the employee to damages.

How Can the Law Office of Thomas R. Davis Help You?

Because there are many necessary legal steps that must be taken to protect your rights – such as the statute of limitations, important administrative actions, etc. – if you suspect that your employer has retaliated against you, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney to learn more about the options available to ensure that your rights are protected.

If your goal is to get what you are entitled to, having a strong advocate by your side – one with your best interests in mind always – is imperative. Our law office is dedicated to helping workers who have been wronged, and we are available to help you through every step of this process.

If you believe that you have been retaliated against, or if you have any other questions regarding your rights as an employee, call us any time at (617) 319-0885 for a free, no obligation attorney consultation.

We take most employment law cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you only pay us if we collect for you. We are here to provide you with the quality representation that you deserve.

Thomas R. Davis


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