Fair Work P.C.

Boston Employee Rights Legal Blog

Protecting older individuals from age discrimination

Massachusetts residents may have seen an increase in the number of employees who are 65 years old and older. There are a number of reasons for this increase. One reason has to do with the fact that people are simply living longer. This means seniors are worried that they may actually burn out their retirement savings before they die. This increase in older workers entering the workforce has not changed the hiring policies of a lot of companies.

A lot of firms focus on recruiting and retaining millennials; for them, success means hiring workers from a younger generation. In order to accomplish this, some companies will have job postings saying that they do not want workers who have more than X amount of years of experience in the field. If the applicant applies online, there may be a date of birth drop-down menu that stops at a certain year to disqualify individuals who were born before a certain date.

Ageism is not going away

Workers in Massachusetts and throughout the country are generally protected against age discrimination. However, this doesn't mean that employers don't factor in age when deciding who to keep or terminate. Recent lawsuits against companies such as Citibank and IBM show that even large companies are not immune to this practice. One man tried to change his legal age from 69 to 49, citing age discrimination as one of his motivations for doing so.

According to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), age discrimination complaints have double among some minority groups. These groups include women, African-Americans and those who are over the age of 65. The individuals in these cases are generally receiving low wages for their labor. However, the case against Citibank involves an executive who was making $1.24 million at the time that he was let go.

How the #MeToo movement changed whistleblowing for the better

Employers often expect loyalty from their employees. Why else would they have workers sign non-disclosure agreements? Or maintain company confidentiality?

Or threaten employees to keep illegal activities a secret?

Taking action after seeing an illegal job posting

A posting for a job in Massachusetts or anywhere else in the country must meet certain guidelines. For instance, it generally cannot be discriminatory against a protected class. Furthermore, postings cannot claim that a worker will be an independent contractor if he or she is actually treated like an employee. This is important partially because independent contractors are required to withhold their own taxes, and they also aren't entitled to insurance or other benefits like employees are.

If a post advertises that a freelancer will work for 40 hours a week, that person is likely an employee. The same is true if the post says that a person will need to work in an office or other setting dictated by the employer. By definition, freelancers are free to set their own hours and other working conditions. Those who think that a posting could be illegal have several options for reporting the employment law violation.

Time's Up supports healthcare workers fighting sexual harassment

The healthcare sector forms a significant part of the economy in Massachusetts. Healthcare workplaces have also been identified as hotbeds of sexual harassment. The Time's Up movement that originally formed in 2018 to help people in the entertainment industry combat sexual harassment has expanded operations to support healthcare workers. The movement's leadership made this move in response to the large numbers of medical workers who asked the organization for legal help.

A statement released by Time's Up explained that its healthcare program would push for more women in leadership positions in medical fields and hold employers accountable for workplace discrimination. According to the organization, the healthcare workforce is overwhelmingly female with 80 percent of positions held by women. Executive leadership positions, however, skew 90 percent male.

SJC approves fee award to plaintiffs' lawyers in wage settlement

The Supreme Judicial Court today affirmed a lower court's decision to award attorneys' fees of $16,153 to the plaintiffs' lawyers in a case where the plaintiffs privately settled their wage claims against the defendants. 

Discrimination lawsuit filed against Oracle

The tech industry in Massachusetts and all over the country continues to face claims of discrimination against women and minorities. According to a complaint filed by the Department of Labor, discriminatory practices at leading tech company Oracle have cost black, Asian and female employees more than $400 million in lost wages over a four-year period.

The complaint alleges that Oracle created two main pathways through which the company discriminated against employees. The first pathway based employees' initial pay rate on their prior salaries, and the second funneled certain employees into less lucrative career paths. Oracle was also found to be "highly discriminatory" in its college and university hiring practices. Of 500 recent graduate new hires, 90 percent were Asian although Asians only made up 65 percent of the hiring pool. In addition, the company demonstrated a preference for Asian visa holders.

When tipped employees don't get their tips

The Boston Globe recently ran a story about Cultivar - a popular Downtown Boston restaurant - and how it failed to pay wages and tips to its servers and bartenders, including by issuing paychecks that bounced and by failing to pay them their tips.

If it’s happened in the workplace, chances are, one of us has dealt with it.
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