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Massachusetts Law About Discrimination

Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

Selected Case Law

Flagg v. AliMed Inc., 466 Mass.23 (2013) SJC ruling approving an associational discrimination claim under the state’s non-discrimination statute, the Fair Employment Practices Act, or FEPA. View the case, the briefs and the oral arguments!

Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. __ US __ (June 18, 2009). Supreme Court held that a "plaintiff bringing an ADEA disparate-treatment claim must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the “but-for” cause of the challenged adverse employment action...Unlike Title VII, which has been amended to explicitly authorize discrimination claims where an improper consideration was “a motivating factor” for the adverse action,... the ADEA does not provide that a plaintiff may establish discrimination by showing that age was simply a motivating factor."

Haddad v. Wal-Mart, 455 Mass. 91 (2009). Sets forth "a new standard describing the circumstances in which punitive damages may be awarded." "Punitive damages may be awarded only where the defendant's conduct is outrageous or egregious." The court then goes on to explain the factors to be considered in determining whether conduct is egregious or outrageous.

Joule, Inc. v. Simmons, 459 Mass. 88 (2011). Arbitration clause does not preclude MCAD proceeding.

McDonough, petitioner, 457 Mass. 512 (2010). "(1) where a witness with a disability requests accommodation in order to testify, MERA requires that the court provide such accommodation, so long as it is "reasonable," G.L. c. 93, § 103 (a ); (2) where there is a dispute concerning such a witness's request for accommodation, a judge should conduct a hearing to resolve the dispute, preferably before trial, and the witness should be provided with reasonable accommodation, if available, during the pretrial hearing; and (3) where a judge precludes a witness with a disability from testifying by denying a request for accommodation, the party proffering the witness, but not the witness, may appeal the judge's interlocutory ruling as a matter of right to the Appeals Court."

Thurdin v. SEI Boston, LLC, 452 Mass. 436 (Oct. 24, 2008). An employee of a business with fewer than six employees (who is thus unable to sue under MGL c.151B) can sue for employment discrimination under a provision of the the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act (MGL c. 93, § 102).


Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. Great source for guidelines, forms and more.

Other Web Sources

Age Discrimination in Employment, Robert S. Mantell. Book chapter on discrimination, with many citations to cases and statutes.

Direct Evidence of Discrimination, Harvey A. Schwartz. Discusses the legal standard of "direct evidence," and cites to cases that have found direct evidence.

Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Criminal Record Fact Sheet, Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. Outlines questions employers may and may not ask about a job applicant's or employee's criminal record.

Employment Law Guide: A Practical Guide to Understanding Massachusetts Employment Law. Boston Bar Association, Labor & Employment Law Section, 2007. Designed to help "employers and employees in understanding their rights and obligations in the workplace." Pages 4-14 cover discrimination in the workplace.

Housing Providers Rights and Responsibilities Under Federal and Massachusetts State Fair Housing Law, Mass. Housing, Jan. 2011. Explains fair housing / discrimination law to landlords, including: how to market your apartment legally, communication with prospective tenants, dealing with families and children, explanation of disabilities and the rights of the disabled, and more.

The Liberal Interpretation of Chapter 151B, Robert Mantell. An analysis of the reliance (or lack thereof) on the "liberal construction" clause of c.151B, with an argument for a uniform and structured application of liberal construction.

Race Discrimination Update 2002, Harvey A. Schwartz. Although this is several years old, it provides valuable information on the trend toward more race discrimination suits by white males.

Religious Discrimination in Employment, Harvey Schwartz and Robert Shea. "Religious discrimination cases are rare. When they do walk into your office, however, they are emotionally intense, difficult to compromise and cut to peoples' fundamental core values and beliefs. Unlike other forms of employment discrimination, religious discrimination cases confront a head-on a conflict between two basic Constitutional provisions contained in the First Amendment the Establishment Clause... and the Free Exercise Clause."

Shocking to the Conscience: Six Figure Punitive Damage Awards in Employment Discrimination Cases, Robert Mantell, 2002. An analysis of punitive damage jury awards in employment discrimination cases, and strategic conclusions for plaintiff's attorneys.

Print Sources

Employment Discrimination in Massachusetts, by Richard L. Alfred, MCLE, 2008.

Hot Topics in Employment Discrimination Law, MCLE, 2009.