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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
Paying for required training and use of earned time
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0 1 day 42 min ago
by mitchmcc
uniform on to work
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0 3 days 14 hours ago
by vokey
Age Discrimination
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1 5 days 18 hours ago
by Flip64
3 days 16 hours ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
interview question
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0 1 week 1 day ago
by lckennedy
Denied appointment
I have an appointment to USCIS, my employer denied my day off request. That is legal? What can I do?
0 2 weeks 1 day ago
by DmitriyP
Unemployment benefits
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0 3 weeks 1 day ago
by TerryM
review gone bad time for new job but what could I be looking at before I find one
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0 3 weeks 6 days ago
by seanleo28
Cutting HOurs
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1 4 weeks 8 hours ago
by starsmith33
3 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 4 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 4 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 5 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 5 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 7 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 7 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 8 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 8 weeks 3 days ago
by chloe
employment law
Can a owner take tips and distribute later?
1 8 weeks 5 days ago
by tackettgreg0
8 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
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...
0 8 weeks 6 days ago
by Momif3wahs
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 8 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 10 weeks 2 days ago
by Aspen emp
9 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 9 weeks 6 days ago
by EBvikings
9 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 10 weeks 3 days ago
by hardwork
10 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
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...
0 11 weeks 5 hours ago
by yankees24770
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 11 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 18 weeks 1 hour ago
by umakemekissu
11 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 12 weeks 3 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 12 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 12 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 20 weeks 4 days ago
by melissa1989
12 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 12 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 13 weeks 12 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 13 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 13 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 14 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 17 weeks 4 days ago
by jamesjanusz
15 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 15 weeks 2 days ago
by Sick with a note
15 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 16 weeks 11 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 16 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 17 weeks 2 hours ago
by joesmo
16 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 17 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 17 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 6 weeks ago
by SueNT
17 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 19 weeks 2 days ago
by JD02121
18 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 18 weeks 6 days ago
by anthony413
18 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 18 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 18 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 20 weeks 3 days ago
by Prettyunique90
20 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 21 weeks 3 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 21 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 22 weeks 14 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 22 weeks 17 hours ago
by amanda21
22 weeks 16 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 22 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 22 weeks 4 days ago
by Emphaff
22 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 22 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 23 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 24 weeks 2 days ago
by Craftypatty
24 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 24 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 24 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 25 weeks 15 hours ago
by galfriday66
25 weeks 12 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 25 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 26 weeks 1 day ago
by bostongirl33
26 weeks 9 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 26 weeks 1 day ago
by bigsauce
26 weeks 12 hours ago
by The Editor
Mandated flu vaccine at work
My employer is forcing us to get a flu vaccine. I am pregnant, have researched the chemicals in the flu vaccine and am NOT willing to put that into my...
1 26 weeks 6 days ago
by Smc0615
26 weeks 5 days ago
by The Editor
violation of smoke free work place
I work at a nursing home where patients are allowed to smoke outside with CNA lighting their cigaretes for them. It used to be that CNA's who smoke to...
1 27 weeks 16 hours ago
by redwindsor
27 weeks 14 hours ago
by The Editor
Limitations on use of vacation time in Massachusetts
I just went back to work after being on vacation for 1 week. I was told by my boss that I cannot take a week at a time anymore because she was too tir...
1 27 weeks 2 days ago
by 2twins2
27 weeks 1 day ago
by The Editor
Sole Proprietor Prevailing Wage
If a contractor who has won a public works project in MA uses sole proprietors (no employees) as subcontractors on said public works project, is the s...
1 27 weeks 1 day ago
by ConstantContract
27 weeks 1 day ago
by The Editor
Travel reimbursed by employer for remote employee
I work for a large international company based in MA. I am going to be moving overseas (EU) for personal reasons and working remotely from my home off...
1 27 weeks 3 days ago
by kristinawoessner
27 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Dangerous Parking Situation @ Work
I work at a dealership and they are requiring us to park across the street in a lot then cross a busy 2 lane state highway to get to work each morning...
1 27 weeks 3 days ago
by redbull111
27 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Workplace Closing so no severance package?
I was recently informed my company is moving the product line we make to an another existing facility. As my company no longer needs the plant site, t...
2 27 weeks 5 days ago
by employmentlaw101
27 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
Monetary review
Question: I have been employed at the company I work for, for two years. June 16th 2014 makes my second year. The policy of the company is to give you...
1 31 weeks 1 day ago
by shaeed Hall
27 weeks 4 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
No pay after resigning
I quit my job August 1st, I should have recieved my pay check on the 8th, they told me they mailed it on the 6th, but I have yet to recieve anything T...
1 29 weeks 2 days ago
by cedrick
27 weeks 4 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
husband suspended from work for a week with NO warnings
Two weeks ago my husband was suspended from work for 3 12 hour shifts (basically a week of work) with NO, zero, written or verbal warning ever given t...
1 27 weeks 5 days ago
by concerned wife
27 weeks 4 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
promotion discrimination based on race or ethnicity in MA?
I have been working for this company as an assistant house manager in a group home for over seven years. When i got hired the guy who is my current bo...
1 28 weeks 3 days ago
by mankind
28 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Required contents of employee records?
Less than a year ago, I, along with the entire salesforce, was laid off by a MA-based pharma company, with very little notice. I requested my full emp...
1 28 weeks 4 days ago
by GCS
28 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Unemployment benefits when job relocates
I was informed my job would be relocating to a city that is too far for me to travel. I am currently a full time employee (40hr).I have been looking f...
0 28 weeks 3 days ago
Unfair treatment and no action from HR
A recent complaint was logged with HR about my boss which everyone in the department has to speak with HR about. The complaint came from an anonymous ...
0 29 weeks 3 days ago
by ehackett
Employer not scheduling employee to work at all
I was just wondering if not scheduling an employee is illegal in Massachusetts. My employer hasn't put me on the schedule for this upcoming week at al...
1 29 weeks 5 days ago
by cupcakee
29 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Employer refuses days off, overtime pay, or use of vacation time.
I have worked for the same company for nine years now. I started at the bottom as a customer service rep and worked my way up to now being an assistan...
1 30 weeks 1 day ago
by krisbl19
30 weeks 17 hours ago
by Attorney Hennessey
Employee records
I was laid off by a pharmaceutical compmany and was given a very short window to access my emails. I didn't collect all my compensation records, meani...
0 30 weeks 1 day ago
by GCS
Paid Time off Cap
My employer has a fairly generous time off policy, however, they do cap it. Once I reach 552 hours of PTO, I will stop accruing until I use some. I am...
1 30 weeks 5 days ago
by Jfaudree
30 weeks 5 days ago
by The Editor
Forced resignation after action plan
Recently at my job I was told that I needed and action plan in place to bring up my scores because they were low. After writing an action plan and hav...
0 30 weeks 6 days ago
by Rmp7943
Employee rights to Personal file after termination?
Do I have rights to a copy of my personal work file if I have been let go?
2 31 weeks 1 day ago
by zoey234
31 weeks 14 hours ago
by zoey234
FMLA with employers having less than 50 employees
AM I covered under FMLA if my Massachusetts private employer has less than 50 employees? I have an ADA disability
2 31 weeks 1 day ago
by Marley100
31 weeks 1 day ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Can a company pay out different percentage commission structure to employees?
Is it allowable for a company to pay out a commission of 1% of gross sales to one employee and 2% gross sales to another employee? I was recently o...
0 31 weeks 2 days ago
by intricatefool
Can employer limit cash value of vacation days upon resignation?
I have resigned a position, I know that I need to be paid for unpaid vacation days, but there was a clause in my contract limiting to $55 per day as a...
2 35 weeks 3 days ago
by johnmteach
31 weeks 3 days ago
by johnmteach
Exempt Overtime Question
I am a 59 year old woman working 50-60 hours a week as a counter attendant in a small café in Massachusetts. I am not being paid overtime. The ca...
1 31 weeks 4 days ago
by cynbrown5
31 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
1099 employee access to personnel file
If someone is a standard employee for a company, I understand there are rules about maintaining personnel files, notifications, and allowing access. D...
1 31 weeks 4 days ago
by mottconcord
31 weeks 3 days ago
by Kevin M. Kinne
Hours reduced
Hello. I was recently told that my hours would be reduced at work from 40 down to 6 due to budget cuts. Unfortunately, I am last in seniority. I am b...
1 32 weeks 2 days ago
by anabelle21098
32 weeks 1 day ago
by The Editor
Improper uniform deductions reimbursement?
I turned my uniforms in over 6 months ago, but my company never stopped my paycheck deduction. Am I entitled to reimbursement of these funds? Yes, I s...
1 32 weeks 3 days ago
by chasure
32 weeks 2 days ago
by The Editor
Performance Evaluation Duspute
An employer gave an annual performance review accompanied by a pay raise. The employee wanted to comment on the evaluation as permitted on the form. ...
2 2 years 47 weeks ago
by Fitzme
32 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Employee rights re bad Performance Review
My 2012 performance review was better than my 2013 review, even though in 2012 I handled less projects than in 2013. My manager made a point of noting...
1 32 weeks 4 days ago
by JobAdvice29
32 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
CBHI and Fee for Service worker violations
I resigned recently from working with a Boston based non profit that contracts with the state. This agency provided services under Children's Behavior...
2 32 weeks 3 days ago
by prettyjaded
32 weeks 3 days ago
by The Editor
Termination of employee with contract
I signed a year contract with an employer I had been working part-time for 7 years. Our contact was for 1 year. I get either a base salary or % of sal...
0 32 weeks 4 days ago
by cmabikes
Medical time off for someone not covered by FMLA
My husband has only been employed for under 3 months at a new job, and is therefore not eligible for FMLA. He also of course has little to no accrued ...
1 32 weeks 6 days ago
by Ruth R. Faris LICSW
32 weeks 5 days ago
by The Editor
Permanent non-compete clause enforceable?
I am working as an hourly contractor who works for a third party company. My "agreement" (contract) has a non-compete section. The company I provide s...
1 34 weeks 2 days ago
by sarah777
33 weeks 2 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
On call and holiday pay
Hi. My question is, if a per diem (on call) employee works a holiday like the 4th of july; does the employer have the right to say they dont have to p...
0 33 weeks 3 days ago
by employee1
Financial background check - can bad credit influence hiring decision?
Apologies if this has already been asked, but I couldn't find this topic. I've been interviewing recently and a background/financial check is mandator...
2 34 weeks 2 days ago
by sarah777
33 weeks 4 days ago
by Attorney Hennessey
Number of max vacation days decreased but no compensation.
A friend suggested I check this out. I work for a non-profit college. Two years ago they decrease our max number of vacation days from 25 to 20 ...
1 34 weeks 3 days ago
by mmvk
34 weeks 2 days ago
by admin
Losing my earned vacation time
Hi, I am an exempt, non-union, full time employee at a non-profit healthcare organisation. When I first started this job there was no limit on how ...
1 1 year 37 weeks ago
by bananamonkey
34 weeks 4 days ago
by Alan D. Meyerson
Employee not given any hours but not fired?
my daughters place of employment has continuously cut her hours at work and has failed to schedule her for any days this week. Is that legal and how l...
1 35 weeks 14 hours ago
by sbauer12
35 weeks 11 hours ago
by Alan D. Meyerson

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