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MA Employment Law (Workplace/Coworkers) Questions and Answers

Welcome to our Massachusetts Employment Law Forum. Feel free to post questions, answers, or comments about hiring, firing, workplace policies, and other MA employment and labor law issues.  If you need professional legal advice, please use our Attorney Directory to find a MA employment attorney.

Have a question? Use our SEARCH feature, below, to find your answer.  For example, if you have a question about employee rights under MA law, simply enter one or two key words, such as: employee rights

Massachusetts Employment Law Basics

Before we get to the forum, we’d like to present some basic information about employment law in Massachusetts. As with some of the other topics covered in our various forums, employment law is a very broad subject that involves many topics, including wages, overtime, child labor laws, employee rights, and employment discrimination. As you read this synopsis, if you see terms you do not understand or that you would like more information about, just use our search tool to find more in-depth discussions.

The first broad area of labor and employment law, perhaps the one that is of interest to the greatest number of our readers, is employee rights regarding wages and time worked. If you use our search tool, you will find many questions and answers dealing with overtime pay, the minimum wage, tips, holiday pay, meal breaks, etc. Those who live and work in Massachusetts can also avail themselves of many government sponsored resources. There are numerous government websites dealing with employee rights, and the Attorney General has a Hotline that MA residents can call to get information about their rights on the job. (617-727-3465).

In other threads on this forum, readers will find detailed discussions on the difference between at-will employment and contract employment, and how those two broad categories of employment are treated differently under MA law. This is a key distinction because, with many exceptions (also discussed in the forum) employers are free to terminate at will employees for any legal and non-discriminatory reason. Contract and union employees, on the other hand, can only be terminated for certain, specified reasons.

Finally, readers will find a good deal of information about various types of employment discrimination. It is common for workers in Massachusetts to believe they have been treated unfairly, or even fired, because of their age, ethnicity, gender, or just because they did or refused to do something on the job. Believing you have been treated unfairly, however, and actually proving in a court that your employer violated the law are two very different things. Hopefully, readers will find sufficient information on these pages to help them assess their situation and determine whether they should contact an attorney.

Good luck in your search for legal information, and please let us know what you think about The Forum.

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TopicRepliesCreatedLast replysort icon
MA Labor Question
I work in a Hospital where all employees fill out time cards. One department manager is installing an automated "punch clock" system. Is it legal for...
0 1 day 17 hours ago
by John Gomes
Boss embarrassed me twice
My boss has twice now reprimanded me in front of other employees . This has embarrassed me and humiliated me. Are they allowed to do this ? The 1st ti...
0 2 days 21 hours ago
by AmiRoii
Being charged for damage due to faulty equipment
At work we have a freezer for frozen food. The refrigerator has had a broken shelf for years that prevents the door from closing completely and custom...
0 6 days 4 hours ago
by areteIII
Restaurant Salaried Employees
I was a salaried restaurant manager. The restaurant went out of business and closed (Friday June 19th) five days after notifying the staff (Sunday Jum...
0 6 days 13 hours ago
by map1120
employer disciplining employees for things from 5 years ago
I work at the nuke plant in plymouth. Our manager has been lumping together things from 5 years out in order to discipline our security force. Is ther...
0 1 week 1 day ago
by phillypcp
Fired for hospital visits?
I have been hospitalized twice in the last 2 months for an illness for a week at a time. I have not worked at the company long enough to file for FMLA...
0 1 week 4 days ago
by Pari40
my boss doesn't want to pay me for all time that i work
I work in a dr.s office in Massachusetts. We open at 8:30, but I am required to be there 10 to 15 minutes early to turn on all of the equipment and se...
3 2 years 4 weeks ago
by kelanor
4 weeks 1 day ago
by shannandunn
Employer Threatening
My boss told us today if anyone calls in sick next week, he will investigate them . He is saying this because we have a inspection next week from Feds...
2 2 years 16 weeks ago
by Ami Roi
4 weeks 6 days ago
by Ami Roi
Legal to contact new employer about two week notice?
My friend decided to change jobs after being treated poorly at the current place of work. When he got a new job he gave a verbal notice of two and a ...
0 5 weeks 2 days ago
by criddle3
Salary worker
I work for a company that had a temp agency. I work for the temp agency and they made me a salary supervisor. I took vacation and they did not pay me....
1 6 weeks 3 days ago
by Miguelomi
5 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
unfair unemployment decisions
I worked for a construction company for over a year. I was fired for being five minutes late to work. I applied for and was denied unemployment benefi...
1 3 years 17 weeks ago
by kevinjamescerce...
5 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Termination of At Will Employee, working remotely, and Payment of final paycheck
I have been working (At Will) for an online specialty grocer since March, 2014. Due to several reasons (re: child illness, transportation issues), my...
1 6 weeks 2 days ago
by Serafina
5 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Threats from an ex coworker, just recently fired.
A Co worker recently fired believes it was me who was responsible for her firing. she and her sister are now sending me harassing, threatening texts o...
1 5 weeks 3 days ago
by jesamel
5 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
constract law
6 years ago, I agreed to change position in my job. Principal to teacher. One of the agreed points was a letter of recommendation from the supt and ...
0 6 weeks 15 hours ago
by ralph slavik
Not paid overtime for training?
My spouse works at an elder care facility that normally treats employees very well. Recently a mandatory training came up, and this training caused my...
0 6 weeks 6 days ago
by HELP123
Refusing to pay mileage reimbursement due to late paperwork
Hi. I work in home health as a salaried employee. We receive a certain amount per mile for mileage. I recently noticed a discrepancy in my reimburseme...
0 7 weeks 19 hours ago
by jillmac500
I work for a municipality, I was issued a direct deposit for 21 hrs overtime INSTEAD of 21 hrs regular time on a Thursday. I was told that the ONLY wa...
0 7 weeks 2 days ago
by Catlib
job requirement
I was hired as an occupational therapist and am being forced to work as a teacher's assistant. Is this legal?
0 9 weeks 10 hours ago
by note4ash
Suspended for 3days without pay while on vacation
I started vacation Thursday, Saturday my boss called me and me too come in Sunday, I told her I was out of town she told me I better be there. Sunday ...
0 9 weeks 1 day ago
by Crystal
Labor/paid time off
My company has recently changed how Paid time off is accrued. Employees were not notified, and nothing was signed acknowledging the change I now earn...
0 9 weeks 1 day ago
by Anfstp
Worker Responsibility to divluge infection
My boss recently casually mentioned she had shingles a week and a half ago. I am quite upset I wasn't told at the time as I have never had chicken po...
0 9 weeks 1 day ago
by sutekh22
secretly recorded by employee
A fellow employee asked to meet with me in private and secretly recorded our conversation without my knowledge on her cell phone and then played it in...
0 9 weeks 2 days ago
by AmiRoi
Employment Laws
Applied for a bakers position, before my actual interview , speaking with the hiring manager over the phone, as I asked " This is a full time position...
0 10 weeks 6 days ago
by Justme47
Vacation Plan Change
Recently my company changed their vacation plan from one where I accrued vacation in the previous year to use in the current year, to a "take vacation...
0 10 weeks 6 days ago
by lfdal54
Sick Call
I am a part time employee of a large retail store In Worcester Ma. I recently had reason to call in sick for a substantiated illness. I called in mor...
0 12 weeks 4 days ago
by Dilligaf0430
alternate job
I was hired as an occupational therapist and am being forced to work as a part time teacher's assistant. Is this legal?
0 13 weeks 11 hours ago
by note4ash
Per diem work during maternity leave
Hello, I am currently working full time and also have another per diem job on the side that I do in between on weekends and such. I am pregnant and...
0 13 weeks 1 day ago
by ranauruguaya
Pay employer upon leaving for required course, travel & lodging
Am leaving a company. Was required to take 3 day course in another town. Passed exam first time. After course, I was given a new policy to sign req...
0 13 weeks 1 day ago
by slee446
personal information requested by employer
My job that I have worked at for over 15 yrs is currently sending around an HR packet requesting more information from employees than the ever have be...
0 13 weeks 2 days ago
by inquisitive
Foced union membership
Are state employees in MA forced to join a union? Must they pay union dues even if they don't support the policies of that union?
0 13 weeks 6 days ago
by nook6633
Benefits Notice/Letter
I started full-time (benefits eligible) work last December 1, 2014 with a local company in Boston. I was schedule to start work November 1st, but my ...
0 14 weeks 1 day ago
by needhammba
Consumption of Food/Drinks
I work for a company, that's similar to a nursing home, but we only take care of people during the daytime. Clients are here from 830-230, and employe...
0 14 weeks 1 day ago
by Eallen
Change in job requirements to include mandatory on call days
I am employed by a skilled nursing facility as an hourly nurse manager. I have been recently required to be on call every weekend in addition to my 4...
0 14 weeks 6 days ago
by Gillway
Conditions of receiving vacation pay?
Is it legal for an employer to give conditions of vacation pay? For example saying: "Accrued vacation will not be given if 3 weeks notice is not lef...
0 15 weeks 6 days ago
by Lampshade
Previous employer disclosing my pregnancy status falsely as reason I quit
Please help! My former employer, a school, (job I quit in November with written notice stating leaving due to lack of communication and poor organiz...
0 16 weeks 6 hours ago
by JBradS
Vacation Pay
Over the past 8 years I worked at a law office as a paralegal. My start date at this firm was 01/02/2008 Every year, on the 2nd of January,ever...
0 16 weeks 1 day ago
by holdingvacation...
employment law
I do not have much money to pay for a lawyer but my question is do I have a case a few years back I had left my job and the employer refused to pay me...
1 28 weeks 6 hours ago
by yankees24770
16 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
uniform on to work
if I work at a retailer that requires me to wear a uniform, can my employer make me have it on before I clock in? They do not let me take it off the p...
1 17 weeks 3 days ago
by vokey
16 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Can I be fired due to my daughters illness
Soon after I started working in a hospital my preteen daughter required behaviorial health inpatient stays and visits from BH professionals that pulle...
1 25 weeks 6 days ago
by Momif3wahs
16 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
interview question
I was recently asked by a California agency, whether or not I had a trust fund. Is this illegal? It made me incredibly uncomfortable!
1 18 weeks 1 day ago
by lckennedy
16 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
I was deacriminated against by an employer, filed with MCAD but beyond 300 days...supervisor at that job was a part of the descrimination and refused ...
1 16 weeks 3 days ago
by Josephine
16 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Lunch break
My daughter works for a restaurant where she is required to work 8-10 hours with no lunch break if they are busy. She is afraid if she complains, she ...
0 16 weeks 4 days ago
by Suegorm
Paying for required training and use of earned time
Hi I work for a company with a history of poor understanding of labor laws. A few years ago they were successfully sued for requiring unpaid overti...
0 17 weeks 1 day ago
by mitchmcc
Age Discrimination
I left my last job retail job several months ago. I had worked there over 4 years. Part time and full time. As an employee with ver 30 years of ret...
1 17 weeks 5 days ago
by Flip64
17 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
Denied appointment
I have an appointment to USCIS, my employer denied my day off request. That is legal? What can I do?
0 19 weeks 1 day ago
by DmitriyP
Unemployment benefits
I'm collecting unemployment benifits but now will have to go to the hospital for detox and rehab which will put me out of looking for work for 30 days...
0 20 weeks 1 day ago
by TerryM
review gone bad time for new job but what could I be looking at before I find one
Please take the time to read as i am probably going to ramble but a bad way to end the work week kinda bummed and could use some advice so it is very...
0 20 weeks 6 days ago
by seanleo28
Cutting HOurs
I currently work full time , I put in my two weeks very advance (about 6weeks) just to give them time to look for proper coverage for when I leave. My...
1 21 weeks 9 hours ago
by starsmith33
20 weeks 6 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
pay for employees when company closes due to snow storm on your scheduled workday
Is it legal for an employer to not pay employees when the company closes due to a snow storm on your scheduled work day?
0 21 weeks 3 days ago
by genny924
Returning from layoff on benefits
Does the employer have to return all of the workers benefits they had when they were laid off or do they only have to up to a certain time period? ...
0 21 weeks 5 days ago
by Fran45
Is it legal to work 24+ hours straight?
I am a residential counselor at a group home located in worcester county massachusetts. On 01/26 I went into work due to a storm coming the following ...
0 22 weeks 1 day ago
by paradise09
salary employment/ sick leave
I am currently employed as a salary/exempt employee and over the summer I was involved in an accident which kept me out of work for 3 months and I jus...
0 22 weeks 1 day ago
by jburton
Personal vehicle
I am an office worker who has had a desk job with an insurance company for over 10 years. Can my employer require me to make deliveries for the compan...
0 24 weeks 1 day ago
Per diem laws
I have been working for a local hospital for a year. I was hired as a per diem employee. I was given 40 hrs during three month training and then given...
0 24 weeks 2 days ago
by Mkc1024
wrongful termination
I was hired full time as dealer service manager from after-market automotive service manager. After about 3.5 months I was told they hired a service m...
0 25 weeks 1 day ago
by munley1
Reduction in hours for FTE
Hi, I have been employed by my company as a full time employee with benefits in good standing since starting at my job a year ago. My offer of employm...
0 25 weeks 3 days ago
by chloe
employment law
Can a owner take tips and distribute later?
1 25 weeks 5 days ago
by tackettgreg0
25 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
Sick call
Is it legal for a supervisor to ask questions about your sickness and then make you feel guilty for calling out sick?
0 25 weeks 6 days ago
by Ditzie
holiday pay
I work for a property management co. There are over 200 employees in our home office in MA. All the home office has the day after Christmas of with pa...
1 27 weeks 2 days ago
by Aspen emp
26 weeks 1 day ago
by BlitzGraybeard
Prevailing wage and travel
I work for a tech company that we travel to different towns and work in schools installing projectors and cabling. Some are prevailing and some are no...
1 26 weeks 6 days ago
by EBvikings
26 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
Former Employer Paying Current Employees Overtime Retroactively for past 5 Years. Am I entitled?
Hello, I am looking for some advice, and hope I can gain some knowledge here. I left my former employer about 5 months ago for a new job oppor...
1 27 weeks 3 days ago
by hardwork
27 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
Last Paycheck Upon Termination/Discussing Wages
Hi all I was fired from a job last week in MA. Basically, my boss overheard me talking about commissions (I sell motorcycle services) and how most ...
0 28 weeks 5 days ago
by drivingfaster
Overtime: Mass. vs Fed. rate
Based on my research on overtime pay for restaurant employees, Massachusetts restaurant employees are not entitled to overtime pay under State law but...
1 35 weeks 3 hours ago
by umakemekissu
28 weeks 6 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Old Employment Records for Belchertown State School
Advice concerning to whom I should turn in government in order to get verification of my 3 years employment at Belchertown State School in the 1970's ...
0 29 weeks 4 hours ago
by JAllen
I recently filed a claim for unemployment via my old company, I was told by a friend and current employee at the company that a member of human resour...
0 29 weeks 1 day ago
by Jbrown788
Employee quits with a negative vacation balance
We are a small dental practice in Massachusetts. Our front desk manager quit with no notice and had taken 5 more days of vacation than she was entitl...
0 29 weeks 3 days ago
by bbjornson55
Am I entitled to accrued vacation time if i resign in MA
My employee handbook states upon termination eligible employees will be paid for accrued but unused vacation. My boss says I am not entitled to it bec...
1 37 weeks 4 days ago
by melissa1989
29 weeks 5 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Colelcting UI with a severance
I was laid off this week and offered a bi-weekly severance payment, payable over time into 2014, in exchange for signing a release of claims waiving m...
0 29 weeks 6 days ago
by ykdmma
workplace day schedule being changed
I work part-time, 2 days per week. My supervisor told me that they are changing my days but would not tell me why. I have seniority over other peopl...
0 30 weeks 13 hours ago
by pmbell
Can employer deny an early return from maternity leave?
I left for maternity leave on 9/15 and had agreed with my employer to be out until 1/5/15 (longer than 12 weeks). Most of this was unpaid, I had 4 we...
0 30 weeks 1 day ago
by xmaystarx
Refused Unemployment
I was laid-off by an employer last year. When DUA questioned them about my layoff they said that I left my job voluntarily. DUA sent me a survey to r...
0 30 weeks 5 days ago
by clairebear724
Employer slander?
I work for a large financial institution. The company has clear policies for approval of certain products they sell. My job is to inspect/review the a...
0 31 weeks 6 days ago
by jazzman2
flat rate pay questions
I am a detailer working for a dealership i am on the flat rate pay system i have a few questions. first lets say i work 50 hours in a week but i on...
1 34 weeks 4 days ago
by jamesjanusz
32 weeks 1 day ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
PLEASE ANSWER - Can I be terminated for calling out sick with a doctors note? (Retail Holiday Work)
Good evening, I work at a store at a mall, as a shift manager. Needless to say, it is getting busy due to the time of year, and the extra hours an...
1 32 weeks 2 days ago
by Sick with a note
32 weeks 1 day ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Hourly rate for vacation
My workplace has an accrual vacation time system (1.5 days per month) - I recently received a raise. I was told that my vacation time earned prior to ...
0 33 weeks 12 hours ago
by draughtash
Standard practice for lunch break
It is standard practice at my place of employment to take a hour lunch break even though technically the policy is 30 minutes unpaid. I just returned ...
0 33 weeks 6 days ago
by Kimberlylynn
days off from work after 42 hours in 5 days
can my boss make me work on saturday or sunday if i worked 40 hours monday through friday already?
1 34 weeks 3 hours ago
by joesmo
33 weeks 6 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Salon owner cuts hours no notice
The owner of my salon has had multiple claims of harassment, which have never gone through because those stylists were under contract not to work with...
0 34 weeks 1 day ago
by Devieluc
I work on a swing shift seven days on two days off. we run 24/7,we were told that the law changed and we can only work six days two off did the law ch...
0 34 weeks 1 day ago
by daniel mcgrath
Must MA employers give paid sick time?
I'm new to the job market after graduating from high school in MA. I'm surprised to find that many employers do not have any paid sick time for emplo...
3 1 year 23 weeks ago
by SueNT
34 weeks 1 day ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Overtime Pay Rules
I work as a Data Analyst temp at the Dept of Health and Human Services. Recently our department has experienced an increase in the volume of work and ...
3 36 weeks 2 days ago
by JD02121
35 weeks 6 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Is it legal for my employer to dock an hour pay for being 1 minute late? I get paid by hour. For example I'm scheduled for 7 am come in at 7:01 am. I ...
2 35 weeks 6 days ago
by anthony413
35 weeks 6 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
"Day pay" for salaried employee.
I am a line cook working over 50 hours a week on average. I am on salary. Working 5 days a week, my pay is always the same, as it should be on salary....
0 35 weeks 6 days ago
by hbrady
performance evaluation & retroactive pay
My performance evaluation was given 3 months late by my boss, i got a good review and am due a raise. my question is does my company have to pay me ba...
0 35 weeks 6 days ago
by close shave
Full time
My employer has notified us that they have looked into the law of full time workers and full time officially starts with 30 hours a week so therefore ...
1 37 weeks 3 days ago
by Prettyunique90
37 weeks 3 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
My employer has no proper leave policy
My employer only say, we have "open leave policy". And it also says, its just require approval from the management. It never says, how many number of ...
0 38 weeks 4 hours ago
by simonos
Paid Training
My daughter started a job last week at a small family owned business. She trained for the customer service position for approximately 2.5 hours. They ...
0 38 weeks 1 day ago
by maddy6427
Ma required mileage reimbursement
Are Ma employers required to reimburse mileage to all eligible employees at the same rate? ie $.45/mile. More specifically, would it be legal for emp...
0 39 weeks 15 hours ago
by gateman7
Can employer underpay me if I'm late for work?
is it illegal for my boss to pay me for half a day if im 30 minutes late but i still worked from 9:30-6:00
2 39 weeks 18 hours ago
by amanda21
39 weeks 17 hours ago
by Rob Fortgang
Nanny Wage Laws
I am hitting a brick wall finding any info on how nannies should be paid in Massachusetts, so I would be much appreciative of some insight. I am a...
0 39 weeks 1 day ago
by HELP123
Server wage deduction
Can a restaurant manager force a server to pay for a mistake they made? For instance, food that was rung into the computer system incorrectly or sent ...
1 39 weeks 4 days ago
by Emphaff
39 weeks 3 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Forced to come in early, need clarifaction.
To whom it may concern, Recently my boss told me that I needed to be ready to work at my scheduled time which includes an apron and at times a b...
0 39 weeks 5 days ago
by Okktral
Transfer of significant distance
My wife is being transferred from a store she works at that is roughly 20-25 minutes to one that is over an hour away. She was already unhappy with he...
0 40 weeks 6 days ago
by VermillionDe
Employee sent home midshift
If my boss sent me home in the middle of my shift and I don't have any vacation time/sick days left will I still get paid for the entire day?
1 41 weeks 2 days ago
by Craftypatty
41 weeks 1 day ago
by The Editor
Confirming employment
If a potential employer calls a previous employer will they be told if a person was terminated for cause or just given employment dates? Is there a la...
0 41 weeks 2 days ago
by Freegirl14
Laid Off with no Annual Review
I was laid off as June 20th due to apparent funding issues. During that time I was a union hourly employee. Due to union negotiations with the compa...
0 41 weeks 3 days ago
by myright
Paid Breaks
Under MA state Law, am I required to take an unpaid break for a shift under 6 hours ? under 5.5 hours or under 5 hours ????? I work at an airport a...
2 42 weeks 17 hours ago
by galfriday66
42 weeks 13 hours ago
by Rob Fortgang
MA freelancer law
Massachusetts has a freelancer law that says a company with an office in MA cannot hire freelancers in the same industry as the company. Is this discr...
0 42 weeks 3 days ago
by Writer1
Collecting back overtime question
I recently was discharged from a job do to bullying by my Supervisor. After leaving my position, I realized I had worked so much overtime in the past...
2 43 weeks 1 day ago
by bostongirl33
43 weeks 10 hours ago
by bostongirl33
Can I be fired for running for political office?
If I run for a local or state office that is not a full time job/commitment, can my employer fire me even thought I have stellar performance?
1 43 weeks 1 day ago
by bigsauce
43 weeks 13 hours ago
by The Editor

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