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Massachusetts Employment Law

Were you denied a promotion at your Lexington office because you suspect that your manager is homophobic? Maybe you work at a department store in Boston where your employer won’t pay you for overtime or allow you to take vacation.

These and many other problems you may have with your employer that impact your ability to perform your job or provide for yourself may constitute a Massachusetts employment law violation.

Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker’s compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Massachusetts employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.

Common Massachusetts Employment Law Issues

The Massachusetts class action lawsuits against Uber and other ride sharing services in 2016 highlight one of the most common employment law issues in the state: employee misclassification. In the lawsuits, Massachusetts drivers employed by the services claim that they should be classified as employees—not as independent contractors.

Employee misclassification can result in an employer denying workers benefits like overtime pay, wage protections, health insurance and breaks that would otherwise be rightfully due to the workers. Employers are not legally required to provide independent contractors with the same benefits that they provide for employees.

Massachusetts law classifies independent contractors apart from employees using three identifying criteria:

  • The worker works freely and outside of the employer’s direct control both as per the terms of the service contract and in practice.
  • The worker’s services aren’t typical to the employer’s usual course of business.
  • The worker operates in their own independently established business or trade similar in nature to the service provided to the employer.

If the worker-employer relation doesn’t meet all three of these criteria, the relationship has been misclassified.

Massachusetts Minimum Wage

As of January 2017, Massachusetts’s minimum wage is $11/hour. The state minimum wage was incrementally increased from $8/hour in 2015 as part of a bill Governor Deval Patrick signed in 2014. This is the last minimum wage increase from that law.

Massachusetts Whistleblower Laws

If an employee catches their employer doing or asking the employee to do something illegal or potentially harmful to the environment, the public or human health, they might hesitate to report their concern. An employee might reasonably fear that their employer would retaliate for raising an alarm. Under Massachusetts’s whistleblower laws, however, employees of public employers are protected and encouraged to speak out.

If you work for a public company or organization, your employer may not suspend, terminate, demote or otherwise punish you for doing any of the following:

  • Report an employer’s illegal or unsafe policy, activity or practice to a supervisor or a public regulatory body like the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Testify in court or before a public body against an employer’s illegal or unsafe policy, activity or practice.
  • Refuse to participate in an employer’s illegal or unsafe policy, activity or practice.

If your employer retaliated against you for whistleblowing, you may take them to court within two years of the retaliatory action. If you win the whistleblower lawsuit, you may be entitled to having your position with your employer reinstated, recovering up to three times your lost wages and reinstating your benefits and seniority rights, among other awards.

Get Help from a Massachusetts Employment Attorney

If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it’s in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Massachusetts employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.

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