State and Federal law prohibits discrimination against employees, or prospective employees, on the basis of sex, religion, national origin, national ancestry, race, color, disability, sexual orientation or age (“protected class”). This means that employers cannot make adverse hiring, promotion, retention or firing decisions based on the fact the employee is a member of a protected class. Employers also cannot impose upon employees different and adverse terms and conditions of employment (treat the employee differently) just because the employee is in a protected class.
A discrimination claim must first be filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD"). After the claim is brought before the MCAD, a discriminated employee may leave his or her claim with the MCAD to have the MCAD decide on the claims merits, or the employee may remove and file the claim in a State or Federal court. There are certain advantages between removing a case to the courts versus leaving the case with the MCAD. The MCAD can be a less expensive and burdensome forum in which to litigate and certain damages are easier to recover at the MCAD. Conversely, the MCAD cannot award punitive damages or issue preliminary injunctions. These are the types of issues that require the guidance of an experienced discrimination lawyer.
If you think your employer has discriminated against you, it is critical that you know that the statute of limitations period to bring a claim is very short. If you do not file a complaint within the required time period, your claim cannot be brought before the MCAD or in court and your rights will be lost. (See also, Retaliation).
If you have any questions about your employment situation, please fill out the inquiry form for our employment lawyers or call of one our offices.