Employment Discrimination in Massachusetts

Employment discrimination against protected classes is illegal in Massachusetts.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Federal and state law prohibit Massachusetts employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in Massachusetts?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.

In addition to the above categories, Massachusetts law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • marital status
  • ancestry
  • arrest record
  • criminal record (inquiries only)
  • military service, and
  • natural or protective hairstyle.

Which Massachusetts Employers Are Subject to the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to Massachusetts employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

In Massachusetts, any company with six or more employees is subject to the state's antidiscrimination law.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in Massachusetts?

The Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) enforces state antidiscrimination law in Massachusetts. You can contact the Commission Against Discrimination at 617-994-6000 or go to its website.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Massachusetts.

Deadline to File a Discrimination Claim in Massachusetts

You have 300 days from the most recent discriminatory act to file a charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. If you choose to file your claim with the EEOC, you also have 300 days to file.

You must file a discrimination charge with the MCAD or the EEOC if you wish to file an employment discrimination lawsuit in court. Once your claim has been with MCAD for 90 days, you can petition to remove your case to court.

Contact an Attorney

If you've been the victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, contact an employment law attorney to discuss your legal options. You can find an attorney near you using our Lawyer Directory.

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