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Employment Laws in Massachusetts

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on December 17, 2012.

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Employers in Massachusetts must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employee does not include an individual employed by his or her parents, spouse or child, or in the domestic service of any person.

Employer does not include employers with fewer than six employees, social clubs, or nonprofit organizations.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

It is unlawful for an employer to base its hiring or employment decisions on the individual's :

  • race
  • color
  • religious creed
  • national origin
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • genetic information
  • ancestry
  • age
  • disability
  • failure to furnish an arrest record that is five or more years old

Military service. It is unlawful for an employer to deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion or any benefit of employment to a person who is a member of, applies to perform, or has an obligation to perform, service in a uniformed military service of the United States, including the National Guard, on the basis of that membership, application or obligation.

Medical workers. Retaliatory action against medical workers who object to participating in the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood and placental tissue on the basis of sincerely held religious practices or beliefs regarding blood transfer is prohibited.

In addition, an employee can not be required to conduct scientific research, experimentation or study that involves the creation or use of pre-implantation embryos in relation to human embryonic stem cell research to the extent that such research conflicts with sincerely held religious practices or beliefs of the employee.

Same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is allowed in Massachusetts.

Gender identity. Effective July 1, 2012, employment discrimination based on gender identity is prohibited. Transgender citizens are considered a protected class and entitled to equal protection under the law.

Nurses' overtime. Effective August 6, 2012, employment discrimination based on a nurse's refusal to work mandatory overtime beyond that permitted in a hospital setting is prohibited.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Every person must keep true and accurate records of the ages of all persons it employs, as far as practicable to do so, and must upon demand furnish to the Commissioner of Labor and Industries or the commissioner's authorized representative a true copy of any such record, verified upon oath. The records must be open to investigation by the commissioner or the commissioner's authorized representative at any reasonable time.

Employers of 25 or more workers on each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year are required to make and keep records relating to the race, color and national origin of their employees, which are necessary for showing compliance with the Fair Employment Practices Law.

Posting Requirements

Every employer that is covered by the Fair Employment Practices Law must post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice prepared by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, setting forth excepts of the law.

In addition, employers with six or more employees must adopt a sexual harassment policy and annually provide an individual written copy of it to all employees.

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