The New England state of Massachusetts is home to more than 6.5 million people and generates a gross product of around $350 billion annually, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Massachusetts is the most productive state per capita in the U.S., and it has played pivotal roles in American history since the earliest days of European colonization. The state’s largest city, Boston, witnessed American ferment against the British Crown that preceded the Revolutionary War. Today, Massachusetts boasts a rich tapestry of industries and agriculture. Hi-tech companies, biotechnology firms, financial service groups, and healthcare associations all call Massachusetts home. In addition, the state supports numerous institutions of higher learning, including Amherst College, Williams College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. In terms of agricultural products, Massachusetts produces significant outputs of cranberries, poultry and dairy, and seafood.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination oversees and enforces fair workplace laws in the state. This agency was founded in 1946 as the “Fair Employment Practices Commission” and changed its names to “Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination” four years later. Over its nearly six decades of operation, MCAD’s powers have shielded protected classes from workplace issues such as:

  1. Discrimination. Per law, employers in MA cannot discriminate against current or prospective employees based on their sexual orientation, criminal record, religious background, race or ancestry, national origin, color, gender, or genetics. MCAD oversees one of the more progressive and comprehensive antidiscrimination efforts in the country. In 2004, MA became the first state in the nation to legally sanction same sex marriages. Since these protections have been codified, many individuals have come forward with claims of workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Clearly, although a substantial portion of the MA electorate agrees in equal rights for those with differing sexual orientations, a substantial minority does not.
  2. Sexual harassment. Workers of any gender or orientation who have been on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviors -- such as lewd or obscene jokes, demands for sexual favors as a condition of employment or promotion, or otherwise hostile environments -- can seek recourse under the law.
  3. Retaliation. In Massachusetts, employees can report illegal behaviors (or the suspicion of such actions) without fear of losing their jobs, receiving demotions, or experiencing other negative consequences as a result.
  4. Wage and hour violations. Wage and overtime laws prevent organizations from designating employees incorrectly, falsifying time cards, failing to pay overtime, “skimming” workers’ tips, or otherwise stealing hard-earned money from their employees.

Over the years, the diversity of individuals classified as “protected” under discrimination and other employment laws has continued to expand. This makes Massachusetts an increasingly rewarding place to live and work, but violations sometimes still occur.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of workplace discrimination in Massachusetts or your wages have been unfairly garnished, you may be able to recover damages. Locate an employment attorney in your area who can help you decide what to do next.

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