When to Contact a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer

If you suffered from harassment or prejudice against you in a workplace setting, whether you are employed there or were applying for a job there, you may be entitled to compensation. There are both state and federal laws protecting employees against workplace discrimination, no matter what the cause. A workplace discrimination lawyer helps clients receive the compensation they deserve by representing them in these cases.

Workplace discrimination

What Is Discrimination in the Workplace?

Workplace discrimination occurs when employees experience unfair bias, harassment, or other forms of unjust treatment by an employer on the basis of sex, religion, national origin, race, age, or disability. Federal law prohibits any workplace discrimination for any reason. When harassment does occur, the victim has the right to pursue legal action.

Gender Discrimination

According to an annual report from MCAD in 2021, 17% of all discrimination complaints investigated by MCAD were due to gender discrimination, whether it was sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or parental/pregnancy discrimination. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces two laws protecting workers from sex discrimination at work:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Employers are prohibited from treating workers differently, or less favorably, on the basis of sex, including pregnancy, orientation, and gender identity
  • The Equal Pay Act: All employees regardless of gender orientation must receive equal pay for equal work

These laws also prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Any violations of these laws are a violation of employee rights and can lead to legal action. Employees have the right under these laws to pursue legal action. Victims of gender discrimination are entitled to compensation for economic loss, emotional and punitive damages, and attorney fees.

Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also protects employees against discrimination on the basis of religion. While Title VII protects employers with 15 or more employees, Massachusetts law also protects employees, regardless of how many employees work in the workplace.

Employees in Massachusetts have the right to request religious accommodation required for religious observance or practice. For example, a Jewish employee has the right to request accommodation in observance with Hannukah. This may include schedule changes or leave for religious observance.

Religious accommodation also covers things such as dress and grooming practices as part of a religious practice. For example, an employer may not require an employee to remove their hijab, as it is a part of their religious practice.

Age Discrimination

Federal and Massachusetts law prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who are 40+ years old based on age. Employees are protected against age discrimination in the workplace including:

  • Refusing to hire based on age
  • Terminating, discharging, or laying off employees based on age
  • Refusing to promote based on age
  • Paying lower wages or giving fewer benefits
  • Discrimination against an employee in any other term or condition of employment

Legal action can be taken against any employer who violates these laws. If someone was terminated based on age and is under 40 years old, they may still have a valid claim. Consult with an attorney experienced in workplace discrimination cases if you believe you have a valid claim. You may be able to receive compensation for discrimination.

Racial Discrimination

Both federal and state laws protect against racial discrimination of any kind. Those who experience racial discrimination have the right to pursue legal action against their employer for unfair treatment due to race or color. These laws also protect employees against racial discrimination due to unconscious bias or stereotypical assumptions. Employees experiencing racial bias may experience it in the context of hiring, the ability or inability to receive a promotion, firing, or even day-to-day life in the workplace.


Federal and state laws aim to remove barriers and protect employees with disabilities from discrimination. Employees with disabilities have civil rights protections that provide them with equal access to obtain employment and help promote an equitable workplace.

Federal laws protecting disabled employees include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities during the job application and hiring process, firing, promotions, compensation, job training, and other privileges of employment. This act covers employers with 15 or more employees.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects employees against discrimination on the basis of disability in federal agencies, programs receiving federal financial assistance, federal employments, and federal contractors.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles employees to unpaid and job-protected leave for family and medical reasons.

Massachusetts laws protecting the rights of employees with disabilities include:

What Is MCAD?

MCAD stands for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. This state agency protects workers through Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws and investigates any complaints filed to the agency. They also offer preventative training and resources for preventing discrimination in the workplace.

How to Prove Discrimination in the Workplace

To have a valid case in order to receive compensation for workplace discrimination, an employee must be able to provide proof of unfair treatment or harassment. When consulting with a workplace discrimination lawyer about your unique case, they can guide you in the right direction of collecting proper evidence or statements to support your claim. When pursuing legal action against workplace discrimination, it is best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to understand how to best proceed based on your experiences.

How to Report Discrimination in the Workplace

Employees seeking legal action against workplace discrimination will need to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. You may file a complaint either by phone or through your workplace discrimination lawyer. You will have to schedule a phone consultation with an investigator if you do not have an attorney.

When filing a complaint for workplace discrimination, it is best to file through your attorney. They can file on behalf of a client, making the legal process easier on individuals who have suffered from discrimination.

Is Workplace Harassment a Form of Employment Discrimination?

Anti-discrimination laws in Massachusetts protect employees against forms of workplace harassment on the basis of gender, religion, age, disability, national origin, or race. Any employees experience harassment due to prejudice have the legal right to file a complaint with MCAD against their employer. 

How to Address Discrimination in the Workplace

The first step to addressing discrimination in the workplace is by reporting it. By reporting discrimination, you are also providing evidence of discrimination that could be used in cases that require legal action. You can also file a Complaint of Discrimination at MCAD. Before any legal action takes place, consult with a workplace discrimination lawyer for a greater understanding of how you should proceed. Discrimination cases are taken very seriously on both a federal and state level. You want to be best prepared before pursuing legal action due to discrimination.

Massachusetts Laws Against Workplace Discrimination

There are plenty of laws in Massachusetts that protect employees against all types of discrimination. When filing a complaint, consult with your workplace discrimination lawyer to understand where your case falls within state laws.

Massachusetts has laws protecting both employers at work and job applicants during the hiring process. Massachusetts employment discrimination laws apply to employers with six or more employees, as well as employers of domestic workers regardless of the employer’s size.

Massachusetts laws help protect against discrimination of employees based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Mental illness
  • Criminal Record
  • Age

It is unlawful in Massachusetts to engage is workplace bullying, harassment, prejudice, and unconscious bias that lead to unfair disadvantages at work and mental or physical problems for the victim.

How a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Can Help

A workplace discrimination lawyer has experience handling sensitive cases regarding workplace discrimination in Massachusetts. Upon first consultation, you will receive a greater legal understanding of the options available to you to determine the best course of action. They can represent you from start to finish in your case, giving your case the best chance at success.



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