Massachusetts employers with six or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against current and prospective employees based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, age, criminal record (inquiries only), handicap (disability), mental illness, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, genetics, and active military. 

In addition, employers have an affirmative responsibility to provide maternity leave to biological and adoptive parents.


Definitions as used in 804 CMR 3.00

Age
The term "age" includes any duration of time since an individual's birth of greater than 40 years. 

Employee
The term "employee" means an individual employed by an employer in a full or part time capacity. The term "employee" does not include independent contractors. 

Any individual employed by his or her parent(s), spouse or child, may not maintain a claim against his or her parent(s), spouse or child under the Fair Employment Practices Law. 

Employer
The term "employer" means one or more individuals, governments, government agencies, political subdivisions, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, or receivers, having six or more employees. 

The term employer does not include a club exclusively social, or a fraternal association or corporation, if such club, association or corporation is not organized for private profit. Nonprofit clubs, associations, or corporations which are not exclusively social are not excluded. 

Employment Agency
The term "employment agency" includes any person or entity undertaking to procure employees or opportunities to work. 

Fair Employment Practices Law
The term "Fair Employment Practices Law" refers to M.G.L. c. 151B. 

Protected Class
The term "protected class status" shall include race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age and ancestry. 

Qualified handicapped persons
Qualified handicapped persons shall be deemed as members of a protected class and as such shall have protected class status. 

Sexual Orientation
The term "sexual orientation" shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves children as the sex object.

Applicable Law

The Fair Employment Practices Law, found in M.G.L. c. 151B, s.4 guarantees that no person shall suffer discrimination in the terms, conditions or privileges of his or her employment because of his or her protected class status, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification

  • Application. M.G.L. c. 151B does not define the term "bona fide occupational qualification [BFOQ]," but the Commission in applying the term takes the position that it provides only the narrowest of exceptions.
  • Examples. The Commission will decide BFOQ issues on a case by case basis, but the following examples may provide guidance.

Job Applicants

Massachusetts employers are prohibited from discriminating against prospective employees based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, criminal record, handicap (disability), mental illness, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and genetics. In addition, employers have an affirmative responsibility to provide maternity leave to biological and adoptive parents.

Training

The MCAD Training Unit provides various training services to employers. See Training & Outreach for course offerings, certifications, application, and cost.