Employment

Things to know before contacting us about your employment legal needs.


General

The rights you have once you are unemployed will vary based on the reason for your unemployment. These reasons could include getting fired, getting laid off, or quitting. 

You may have the option of taking legal action if you were fired for an illegal reason. If you did not sign a contract when you were hired, your boss can fire you for almost any reason and most of the time, without warning. The same thing goes for signing a contract with no end date. If you did sign a contract at the start of your employment that lists certain reasons for termination, your boss can only fire you for the listed reasons. If you were fired for a reason not listed, your boss has broken the law. Additionally, you cannot be fired for asserting your rights as an employee in the workplace. You are protected against what is called "retaliation." This means your boss cannot fire you because you mention or report something illegal in the workplace. If you were in a union, consult with the union about filing a grievance.

Your rights are different if you were laid off. You have the right to be paid for any unused vacation and sick time on your last day of work. This could be the date that you are told you are being laid off or at some later date. If you are laid off, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance Benefits. 

If you decide to quit your job for any reason, your right to your last paycheck are different. In this case, your employer does not have to pay you on your last day, but they must still include any unused vacation or sick time. You will most likely be paid at your regular pay period. It is important to consider giving your employer a "two weeks notice" before quitting. This gives the employer time to fill your position, but this is not something you are required to do. If you feel like you had no choice but to quit your job, you may be able to get Unemployment Insurance Benefits. 

While most people in Massachusetts can get unemployment benefits, some are not able to. If you are an employee of a church, an independent contractor, a work-study student, a real estate agent/broker or insurance agent who works for commission only,  or an elected official/policy adviser, you will not be able to get these benefits. To apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits, click here.


Discrimination

There are many state and federal laws in place to protect employees from being discriminated against in the workplace. This does not mean that employers have to treat workers fairly (so long as the treatment is legal). If you feel like you are being treated unfairly and you are in a union, consult with your union about filing a grievance. These laws do make it illegal  for your boss to treat you worse because of your race, color, age (over 40), sex, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, religion, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression. Additionally, employers usually may not ask for certain criminal information or take action against an employee because of the protected criminal information. 

For information on your right to disability accommodations, click here.  

If you think you have been discriminated against for one of the reasons stated above, you must file a complaint at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. You must do this even if you plan to pursue the claim in court as well. For information on how to start a discrimination claim, click here


Relevant Documents

If you would like to pursue a claim against your employer based on the information provided above, it is important that you keep all of the relevant documents for your attorney to review. These include personnel records, full history of background, anything you have signed, unemployment documents, and references. Our attorneys would be happy to assist you in pursuing your claim regarding employment law. 


Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. Information in this guide courtesy of Mass Legal Help and the Fair Employment Project