Workplace discrimination based on the protected characteristics of a worker is illegal under Massachusetts and federal laws. Despite these laws, illegal discrimination continues to be a problem. When people file complaints of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, their complaints will no longer be public.

According to a report in the Patriot Ledger, the MCAD recently released new regulations that make discrimination complaints private until the commission has determined that there is sufficient probable cause to move forward to a trial. The updated regulations came after the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a ruling in November 2019 that the MCAD could not seal discrimination complaints unless it updated its regulations. The MCAD subsequently issued the new regulations to seal discrimination complaints.

Critics argue that sealing discrimination complaints prevents the public from knowing when discriminatory behavior has occurred, effectively shielding bad actors. They also argue that victims often feel alone and might be more likely to come forward with discrimination complaints when they know that others have experienced similar situations. The MCAD argues that sealing discrimination complaints encourages, rather than discourages, more people to come forward while also protecting the reputations of respondents until probable cause is found. However, complaints filed with the MCAD can take years to investigate, meaning companies that have engaged in discriminatory conduct might escape public scrutiny for long periods.

Workplace discrimination based on someone’s protected characteristics is illegal. People who believe that they have been the victims of unlawful discrimination at work might want to talk to experienced employment law attorneys. A lawyer may evaluate the facts and circumstances of what occurred and provide the worker with an honest assessment of his or her potential claim. The attorney might also guide his or her client through the complaint process and work to secure damages to compensate the client for the losses that he or she has suffered.