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EMPLOYMENT LAW GUIDE: - page 13 / 134





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example, the phrase “Irish need not apply” is unlawful today. All individuals are protected

from race discrimination, not just “minorities.” Thus, Caucasians are protected under these

same standards from “reverse” discrimination. Contrary to some misperceptions, these

prohibitions make discrimination by one minority against another minority unlawful as well

(for example, discrimination by African-Americans against Asians, or by Hispanics against

African-Americans or against someone in the same protected class).

B. Age

Chapter 151B and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §

621, et seq., prohibit age discrimination against individuals age 40 or over. The prohibition

against age discrimination covers all terms, conditions and privileges of employment,

including hiring or firing, promotion, layoffs, compensation, benefits, job assignments and

training. An employer generally cannot operate a seniority system or employee benefit plan

that requires or permits involuntary retirement. Layoffs and other apparently neutral

employment practices often have a greater impact on older workers who tend to be more

expensive. There are some exceptions to the age discrimination statutes that are beyond the

scope of this Guide.


Sex/Gender - Generally

Statutory prohibitions against sex discrimination are wide-ranging. Chapter 151B

and Title VII prohibit sex discrimination, which protects both males and females, and also

outlaws differential treatment on the basis of pregnancy. Of particular concern is

discrimination based on gender stereotyping, which is gender based misconceptions such as

“women cannot be leaders.” In Massachusetts, marital status is not itself a protected

category, but employers should avoid making decisions based on an employee’s marital

status, as that could be a form of gender stereotyping. Such discrimination could occur, for


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