Employment discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfairly based on factors unrelated to job performance. It is illegal to use an individual’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation against him or her with regard to hiring, firing, workers’ compensation, and eligibility for disability. These laws are federally regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In Massachusetts, the Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) enforces these laws. Any assumption made by an employer based on generalizations or stereotypes violates a variety of equal opportunity acts and is cause for a potential discrimination claim.
The EEOC defines harassment as any form of uncomfortable and unwelcome behavior based on race, color, religion, gender, age (40 or older), nationality, disability, or genetics. The basis of a harassment charge stems from two elements:
- The plaintiff must tolerate the offensive behavior as a condition of employment.
- The severity of the offensive behavior creates a hostile work environment.
In addition, it is unlawful to use harassment against any employee to keep him or her from testifying or disclosing any necessary information in a legal proceeding.
Harassment claims can be filed against a supervisor, agent of the employer, coworker, or non-employee. The person being harassed may not necessarily be the plaintiff. Any employee exposed to consistent offensive behavior may file. Continue reading