Overview of Types of Discrimination in Massachusetts

We enforce the Anti-discrimination laws of Massachusetts which protect all people in MA from being treated differently or unfairly based on their membership in a protected class.

Massachusetts Law outlaws treating people unfairly based on the persons membership in a "protected class," such as your race, national origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly based on protected class, you may file a Complaint of Discrimination at the MCAD.

We investigate and prosecute Complaints of Discrimination in employment, housing, credit and mortgage lending, public places, and when seeking access to educational institutions. We also enforce the Commonwealth's sexual harassment law, Parental Leave law, and lead paint law.

Employment Discrimination

At Work

Massachusetts employers with six or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against 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, active military personnel, and genetics. In addition, employers have an affirmative responsibility to provide parental leave to biological and adoptive parents.

Job Applicants

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

Additional Resources

Housing

The laws on discrimination in housing also apply to housing advertising, public housing, private realtors and landlords.

Tenants and Homebuyers

Massachusetts landlords and realtors are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, handicap (disability), sexual harassment, sexual orientation, marital status, children, retaliation, veteran status, or public assistance.

Additional Resources

Public Places (Places of Public Accommodation)

Patrons of Public Establishments

Discrimination is prohibited based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, handicap (disability), or sexual orientation at places of public accommodation in Massachusetts, such as:

  • Hotels or other places of lodging
  • Restaurants or bars
  • Theatres, sports stadiums, or other places of entertainment
  • Stores or other retail establishments
  • Service establishments, such as Laundromats, gas stations, lawyers or accountants
  • Hospitals, medical and dental offices, and other health care facilities
  • Transportation providers or stations
  • Museums, libraries, or other places of public display
  • Parks, gyms, beaches, or other places of recreation
  • Schools, colleges, and other educational institutions
  • Child care centers, senior citizen centers, and other social service establishments
  • Public streets and highways
  • Public spaces such as court rooms and polling places

Seeking Credit

Borrowers

Individuals who apply for credit or mortgage loans from Massachusetts lenders are protected from discrimination. Mortgage lenders are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, handicap (disability), sexual orientation, whether the individual has a child, retaliation, and gender identity. 

In addition, banks and other creditors are prohibited from discriminating based on sex, age, sexual orientation, marital status, public assistance, and retaliation.

Applying to School

Applicants

Individuals who apply for admission to schools, universities, and other educational institutions in Massachusetts are protected from discrimination based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, criminal record, blindness or deafness, and retaliation.

Students

In addition, educational institutions are responsible for providing an environment free from sexual harassment.

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