Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
FACT SHEET: DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE BASED ON RACE, COLOR, NATIONAL ORIGIN OR ANCESTRY
Massachusetts and federal laws prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin or ancestry. Some laws make it a criminal offense to discriminate and the penalties for discrimination are often very serious.
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) is the state agency that enforces the laws in Massachusetts. If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination, the MCAD will investigate your claim and take whatever action is necessary. If you believe that you have a discrimination claim, you need to contact the MCAD immediately; in most circumstances, you must file a charge at the MCAD within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory action.
The terms “race,” “color,” “national origin,” and “national ancestry,” are not meant to be complex and technical terms, but should be given their obvious meaning. In fact, the state legislature has given the MCAD the authority to define these terms broadly to prevent discrimination. For example, a person who refuses to hire an individual from Puerto Rico can be found to have discriminated based on his or her “national origin” even though he or she is a United States citizen.
It is important to note that discrimination against an individual because he or she is married to or related to a member of a “protected class” is as unlawful as discrimination directly against a person on account of his race, color, national origin or ancestry. Therefore, if you are discriminated against because of the race, color, national origin, or ancestry of your family member or spouse, you may be entitled to bring a discrimination claim.
Unlawful Practices by Employers
It is a violation of both state and federal law for an employer to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on race, color, national origin, or ancestry. An employer may not make hiring decisions or take any adverse employment actions against you based on your race, color, national origin, or ancestry. This includes:
Using advertisements, publications, or job applications that suggest restrictions in hiring based on race, color, national origin, or ancestry;
Asking job applicants where they were born, where their families or spouses were born, or the origin of their name;