EXCEPTIONS TO THE AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT DOCTRINE

 

 

Robert S. Mantell

Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz

18 Tremont Street, Suite 500

Boston, MA  02110

617 742 7010

RMantell@TheEmploymentLawyers.com

© August 2002

 

 

            The at-will employment doctrine, that an employee can be terminated for any reason or for no reason, is a doctrine whose validity is dwarfed by its numerous exceptions.  Many of the exceptions to the at-will rule are open ended and susceptible to wide interpretation.  For example, it is illegal to terminate employees for engaging in "concerted activity" or in violation of "public policy."  These exceptions to the at-will doctrine will continue to evolve and broaden.

 

            The list provided below shows many, but not all the illegal reasons for terminating employment.  Nevertheless, the list is very long.  For those thinking that the list is too long to be useful, this is an indictment of process that we currently use, which addresses the flaws the at-will employment doctrine in a piecemeal fashion.  There are so many circumstances where the at-will employment doctrine is inappropriate that it is difficult even to consider them all.

 

            When a new client enters a lawyer's office with questions about a termination, there is a danger that an unlawful motive may be overlooked.  How many lawyers ask clients whether the garnishment of wages, or jury duty, could have motivated the termination?  It is a scary prospect that a lawyer can not possibly inquire about the entire gamut of illegal forms of discrimination in a session.  Therefore, the following list has been developed so that both clients and practitioners can flag the possible legal protections that may apply.

 

Illegal Reasons to Discriminate Against An Employee

 

Abortion--Refusal to Perform, Suggest, Assist or Conscientious Objection to

G.L. c.  112, § 12I

 

 

Aiding Others in the Enjoyment of G.L. c. 151B Rights

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4A)

 

 

AIDS Test

G.L. c. 111, § 70f (employer may not condition employment on employee taking HTLV-III antibody or antigen tests)

 

 

Air Pollution--Reporting

See “Pollution—Air” in this Index

 

 

Age Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1B), 4(1C), 4(3); G.L. c. 93, § 103(a) (Equal Rights Act, including right to reasonable accommodation); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); G.L. c. 149, § 24A; 29 U.S.C. §§ 623(a), (b) & (c) (Age Discrimination in Employment Act); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2)

 

 

Age Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); G.L. c. 149, § 24F; 29 U.S.C. § 623(d) (Age Discrimination in Employment Act); 42 U.S.C. § 6102 (federally assisted programs)

 

 

Airline--Safety

See "Safety--Airline" in this index

 

 

Alienage Discrimination

42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also "Citizenship" in this Index

 

 

Ancestry

See "National Origin" in this Index

 

 

Arbitrary Firing

G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(8)(A) (Federal Employees); see also "Good Cause--Lack of" in this Index

 

 

Asbestos--Reporting

G.L. c. 149, § 6D; 20 U.S.C. § 3608 (Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act)

 

 

Association--Public Employees

Certain public employees may not be terminated due to political association or close personal association.  See "Marital Status" and/or "Political Association" in this Index

 

 

Association With Others Within a Protected Class

One closely associated with someone within a protected category may be protected as well.  Papa v. Pelosi, 17 MDLR 1467, 1472 (1995); Green v. Trepanier, 12 MDLR 1358, 1371 (1990); Luna v. Lynch, 7 MDLR 1699, 1725 (1985); Romano v. Lowell Paper Box Co., 4 MDLR 1087, 1097 (1982) (Catholic man held to be a member of protected class because his wife was Jewish); Dittbenner v. Hapco Auto Parts, Inc., 11 MDLR 1139 (1989) (complainant was protected as handicapped due to her husband’s lupus); Reich v. Cambridgeport Air Systems, 8 IER 1614, 1618 (D. Mass. 1993), aff’d 26 F.3d 1187, 1188-9 (1st Cir. 1994) (where OSHA statute prohibits discrimination against those filing an OSHA complaint, and a worker who filed a complaint and that worker’s friend were fired based on the complaint, the friend had a cause of action against the company). 

 

 

Authority--Reporting Abuse of

5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(9)(B) (Federal Employees)

 

 

Bank--Reporting Violation of Law or Gross Mismanagement

12 U.S.C. § 1831j(a)(1); see also "Credit Union" in this Index

 

 

Benefits--Seeking Benefits, Vesting or Testifying

29 U.S.C. §§ 1140, 1141 (ERISA); see also "Wages--Compensation Earned or Almost Earned Based on Past Performance of Services"

 

 

Cancer

G.L. c. 31, § 21 (civil service); see also "Disability" in this Index

 

 

Cargo Containers--Reporting

See "Safety--Cargo Containers" in this Index

 

 

Child Abuse or Neglect--Reporting

G.L. c. 119, § 51A

 

 

Child Labor

G.L. c. 149, §§ 60-74

 

 

Citizenship Discrimination

8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(1)(B)

 

 

Citizenship Discrimination--Opposing

8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(5)

 

 

Citizenship Preference

G.L. c. 149, § 26 (public works preference for citizens of Massachusetts); G.L. c. 149, § 27E (residency preference for department of highways)

 

 

Civil Rights

G.L. c. 12, § 11H & I (interfering with constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion); 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-3 (Civil Rights Acts)

 

 

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons

See “Institutionalized Persons—Reporting Violations of Civil Rights” in this Index

 

 

Civil Service--Just Cause

G.L. c. 31, § 1 et seq.; G.L. c. 31A, § 1 et seq.; School Committee of Brockton v. Civil Service Commission, 43 Mass. App. 486 (1997) (school custodian could not be dismissed because he engaged in sexual act in a public park); G.L. c. 121B, § 29 (housing authority employees)

 

 

COBRA--Health Insurance Continuation Coverage

29 U.S.C. § 1161, et seq. (Federal COBRA); G.L. c. 175, §§ 110G, 110I; G.L. c. 176A, §§ 8D, 8F; G.L. c. 176B, §§ 6A, 6B; G.L. c. 176G, § 5A (Massachusetts COBRA)

 

 

Close Corporation

See "Stockholder in Close Corporation" in this Index

 

 

Collective Bargaining Activity

See "Union," "Concerted Activity" and/or "Contract--Collective Bargaining Agreement" in this Index

 

 

Color

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(2), 4(3); G.L. c. 93, § 102(a); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); G.L. c. 149, § 43; 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a), (b), (c), (d), (l), (m), 3(b) (Title VII); Joseph v. Wentworth Institute of Technology, 120 F. Supp. 2d 134, 138 (D. Mass. 2000) (interpreting 24 U.S.C. § 2000d--Title VI)

 

 

Color Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (Title VII)

 

 

Commissions--Seeking Proper Payment

See "Wages--Seeking Salary and Commissions" in this Index.  See also "Wages--Compensation Earned or Almost Earned Based on Past Performance of Services" in this Index

 

 

Concerted Activity for Mutual Aid or Protection

29 U.S.C. §§ 157, 158(a); Meyers Industries, 268 NLRB 493, 497 (1984); see also "Union Activity" in this Index, although one need not be a union member to have the right to engage in concerted activity.

 

 

Constructive Discharge

Where employee is harassed, or employee's working conditions are changed, based on an unlawful motive, such that a reasonable person standing in the employee's shoes would feel compelled to resign.  GTE Products Corp. v. Stewart, 421 Mass. 22, 34 (1995)

 

 

Conduct Not Bearing on Work Performance

5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10) (Federal Employees); see also "Civil Service--Just Cause" in this Index

 

 

Contract--Arbitration Provision

Shearson Hayden Stone, Inc. v. Liang, 653 F.2d 310, 312-3 (7th Cir. 1981) (agreement to arbitrate disputes concerning discharge implies a just cause standard)

 

 

Contract--Collective Bargaining Agreement

Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v. United Mine Workers of America, District 17, 121 S. Ct. 462 (2000) (just cause provision in a collective bargaining agreement precluded firing of truck driver after second failure of drug test)

 

 

Contract--Just Cause and Due Process Protections

Goldhor v. Hampshire College, 25 Mass. App. 716, 722-3 (1988)

 

 

Contract--Lifetime or Permanent Contract

Boothby v. Texon, Inc., 414 Mass. 468, 476-9 (1993) (Massachusetts recognizes the enforceability of a contract to employ someone for life so long as work exists and the employee performs satisfactorily, if the contract is reasonably clear and the agent of the employer offering the contract has appropriate authority to bind the employer to such contracts)

 

 

Contract--Non-Competition or Restrictive Covenant

May imply requirement for just cause termination.  Staidl, "The Enforceability of Noncompetition Agreements When Employment is At-Will:  Reformulating the Analysis, 2 Emp. Rights and Emp. Policy J. 95 ("Employers should not be permitted to discharge covenant-bound employees except for just cause. . . . [W]hen employees enter into such covenants, they are foregoing opportunities to work for other employers in the field.  If the covenant is entered into voluntarily, the employee implicitly expects job security with the present employer"); See Economy Grocery Stores Corp. v. McMenamy, 290 Mass. 549, 195 N.E. 747, 748 (1935) (restrictive covenant not enforced where employer exhibits bad faith); Light v. Centel Cellular Co. of Texas, 883 S.W.2d 642, 644-5 (Tex. 1994) (non-competition agreement not enforceable where employer provides as consideration promise of at-will employment)

 

 

Contract--Personnel Manual

O'Brien v. New England Tel. & Tel. Co., 422 Mass. 686, 690-4 (1996) (personnel manual could give employee rights beyond ordinary at will employment); Goldhor v. Hampshire College, 25 Mass. App. 716, 722-3 (1988) (personnel manual required employer to attempt to counsel employee prior to terminating the employee for poor performance)

 

 

Contract--Stock Options

See "Stock Option Agreement" in this Index

 

 

Contract--Specific Period or Year-to-Year Contract

Goldhor v. Hampshire College, 25 Mass. App. 716, 722-3 (1988) (an employment contract lasting a specific period of time may only be terminated prior to that time with justifiable cause)  

 

 

Corporate Fraud--Reporting

See "Fraud-Corporate" in this Index

 

 

Credit History

15 U.S.C. § 1681m (employees must be shown credit reports relied on by employers); see G.L. c. 93, §§ 51, 53, 56, 62 (credit information inquiries limited and information must be provided to the employee); 15 U.S.C. § 1674 (garnishment of wages)

 

 

Credit Union--Reporting Violations of FCUA

12 U.S.C. § 1790b(a) (Federal Credit Union Act)

 

 

Criminal Record--Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(9); see G.L. c. 6, § 172 (prohibitions on requiring an individual to provide criminal record, and inappropriate use of criminal record)

 

 

Criminal Record—Refusal to Provide, or to be Truthful Concerning

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(9); see Kraft v. Police Com’r of Boston, 410 Mass. 155 (1991)

 

 

Defamation

Draghetti v. Chmielewski, 416 Mass. 808, 811-815 (1994) (tort claim for superior's statement to press); Codd v. Velger, 429 U.S. 624, 637-8 (1997) (where public employee is terminated in such a manner as to be stigmatizing to her reputation, she may request a hearing to refute untrue charges against her)

 

 

Disability Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(2), 4(3), 4(16); G.L. c. 93, § 103(a) (Mass. Equal Rights Act); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); 42 U.S.C. § 12112 (Americans with Disabilities Act); 29 U.S.C. §§ 793, 794 (Rehabilitation Act) (non-discrimination and affirmative action required); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2); G.L. c. 31, § 21 (civil service protection for applicants with cancer)

 

 

Disability Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a), (b) (ADA)

 

 

Disability--Hiring Preference

5 C.F.R. §§ 213.3101-99 (certain Federal Agencies may make preferential appointments of certain handicapped individuals); 5 C.F.R. 330.703(b)(4) (compulsory hiring for certain Federal Agencies of those who retired with disability but whose disability annuity has been terminated); see also O'Neill v. Healy, 7 Mass. L. Rptr. No. 16, 370 (construing civil service statute G.L. c. 32, § 8)

 

 

Disability—Request for Accommodation

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(4), 4(16); 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a), (b) (ADA); Soileau v. Guilford of Maine, Inc., 105 F.3d 12, 16 (1st Cir. 1997); Cullinane v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 7 Mass. L. Rptr. No. 13, 287 (October 6, 1997)

 

 

Disability—Refusing to Respond Truthfully to Job Application Questions Regarding Disability

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(16); 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d) (ADA); see Kraft v. Police Com’r of Boston, 410 Mass. 155 (1991)

 

 

Disability Retirement--Restoration to Service

G.L. c. 32, § 8 (civil service provision requiring restoration to work of disability retirees found qualified by a Regional Medical Panel)

 

 

Discrimination

This is a very broad concept.  Ask yourself what type of discrimination you suspect, such as sex or race, and then look up those subjects in this index

 

 

Due Process

42 U.S.C. § 1983; Cotnoir v. University of Maine Systems, 35 F.3d 6, 11 (1st Cir. 1994) (fair procedure must be used prior to terminating certain individuals); see also "Contract--Personnel Manual" in this Index

 

 

Employment--Interference With

G.L. c. 149, § 19 (preventing interference with employment by threat or force); Draghetti v. Chmielewski, 416 Mass. 808, 816-8 (1994) (intentional interference with contractual relations claim where defamatory statements by supervisor caused an employee to lose his job)

 

 

Encouraging Others in the Enjoyment of Rights to Non-Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4A) (age, race, religion, disability, criminal record, national origin, color, sexual orientation, gender); 42 U.S.C. § 12203(b) (disability)

 

 

Environment--Reporting Risk to Environment--Public Employees

G.L. c. 149, § 185

 

 

Equal Pay

See "Sex Discrimination" in this Index

 

 

Equal Protection

42 U.S.C. § 1983.  Where a governmental entity treats one person differently than other similarly situated persons and there is no rational basis for the difference, this may be a violation of equal protection.  Increased scrutiny of governmental action may take place where the difference is based on certain protected statuses, such as race or gender.  See Willowbrook v. Olech, 120 S. Ct. 1073 (2000)

 

 

False Claims

See “Fraud—Reporting Fraud to Federal Government” in this Index

 

 

Family Medical Leave Act--Exercising or Attempting to Exercise FMLA Rights.

Hodgens v. Gen. Dynamics, Corp., 144 F.3d 151, 164 (1st Cir. 1998); 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1); 29 C.F.R. § 825.220.

 

 

Favoritism

5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(8)(A) (Federal Employees)

 

 

Financial Reports--Reporting that Financial Institutions are Not Complying With Law Regarding

31 U.S.C. § 5328

 

 

Fifth Amendment

See "Self-Incrimination" in this Index

 

 

Fraud--Bank

See also "Bank" and "Credit Union" in this Index

 

 

Fraud--Corporate, Retaliation for Reporting

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (requiring reporting mechanism and according whistleblower protections); 18 U.S.C. 1514A (civil action for retaliation for reporting violations); 15 U.S.C. § 78j-1(m)(4) (mechanism for filing complaints); 18 U.S.C. § 1513(e) (criminal penalty for retaliation); 18 U.S.C. § 1514 (remedy for harassment of victims or witnesses).

 

 

Fraud—Federal Government, Reports of Defrauding--Retaliation

31 U.S.C., § 3730(h) (False Claims Act)

 

 

Fraud--Massachusetts State or Local Government, Reports of Defrauding--Retaliation

G.L. c. 12, § 5J

 

 

Fraud--Misrepresentation

See "Misrepresentation" in this Index

 

 

Free Speech

See "Speech--Public Concern" in this Index

 

 

Garnishment of Wages

See "Credit History" in this Index

 

 

Gender

See "Sex" in this Index

 

 

Genetic Information

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(19); Executive Order 13145; see G.L. c. 111, § 70g

 

 

Good Cause--Lack of

Gram v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 384 Mass. 659, 671 (1981) (unlawful to terminate employee without good cause, resulting in a deprivation of reasonably ascertainable future compensation based upon past services); Cort v. Bristol-Myers Co., 385 Mass. 300, 303-4 (1982)

 

 

Handicap

See "Disability" in this Index

 

 

Hazardous Substances

See "Pollution--Hazardous Substances"

 

 

Health Information--Protection Against Inappropriate Use or Disclosure

45 C.F.R. § 160.101, et seq. (Health care plans, including certain employers with self-insured health care plans or business associates of covered entities (including health care providers and health plans), may not improperly use or disclose protected health information); see also confidentiality provisions of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(3)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 42.513(d); and "Privacy" in this Index

 

 

Health--Reporting Risk to Public Health--Health Care Providers

G.L. c. 149, § 187

 

 

Health--Reporting Risk to Public Health--Public Employees

G.L. c. 149, § 185; 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(9)(B)

 

 

Health Care Provider--Reporting Violation Posing Risk to Health or Safety

G.L. c. 149, § 187

 

 

Health Insurance Continuation Coverage

See "COBRA" in this Index

 

 

Heart Disease

G.L. c. 32, § 94 (presumed in civil service context to be acquired in the line of duty); see "Disability" in this Index

 

 

Height

G.L. c. 31, § 58 (height restrictions for certain firefighters and police officers must be validated).

 

 

Homosexuality

See "Sexual Orientation" in this Index

 

 

Housing Authority Employee

G.L. c. 121B, § 29 (certain housing authority employees get just cause protections)

 

 

Hypertension

G.L. c. 32, § 94 (presumed in civil service context to be acquired in the line of duty); see "Disability" in this Index

 

 

Illegal Conduct

See "Law--Violations of, Reporting"

 

 

Illegitimacy

42 U.S.C. § 1983

 

 

Immigration--Requiring Excessive Documentation

8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6); see also "Citizenship" in this Index

 

 

Indictment of Public Employee

G.L. c. 30, § 59 (public employees' suspensions must be lifted where criminal prosecutions fail, and back pay and seniority must be restored); G.L. c. 268A, § 25 (municipal officers or employees); Brittle v. Boston, 54 Mass. App. 820 (2002) (back pay where indictment lifted, even if not on the merits)

 

 

Institutionalized Persons—Reporting Violations of Civil Rights

42 U.S.C. § 1997d

 

 

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Agis v. Howard Johnson Co., 371 Mass. 140 (1976) (summary, random and humiliating termination of waitress); however, these types of claims are often preempted by the Workers Compensation Act

 

 

Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations

See "Employment--Continued" in this Index

 

 

Investigation--Cooperating with Governmental Investigation

Flesner v. Technical Communications Corp., 410 Mass. 805, 811 (1991)

 

 

Jury Service

G.L. c. 268, § 14A; G.L. c. 234A, § 48 (right to compensation); 28 U.S.C. § 1875

 

 

Law--Asserting a Legally Guaranteed Right

Upton v. JWP Businessland, 425 Mass. 756, 757 (1997) (public policy)

 

 

Law--Doing what the Law Requires

Upton v. JWP Businessland, 425 Mass. 756, 757 (1997) (public policy)

 

 

Law--Refusing to Disobey

Upton v. JWP Businessland, 425 Mass. 756, 757 (1997) (public policy)

 

 

Law, violation of--Reporting

G.L. c. 149, § 185; 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(9)(A); Upton v. JWP Businessland, 425 Mass. 756, 757 (1997) (public policy)

 

 

Leave--FMLA rights

Hodgens v. Gen. Dynamics, Corp., 144 F.3d 151, 164 (1st Cir. 1998); 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1); 29 C.F.R. § 825.220.

 

 

Leave--Maternity

See "Maternity" in this Index

 

 

Leave--Reasonable Accommodation

See "Sick Leave" in this Index

 

 

Leave--Small Necessities Leave Act

G.L. c. 149, § 52D (to participate in school activities, medical and dental appointments for certain family members)

 

 

Leave--Veterans Day or Memorial Day for Veterans

G.L. c. 149, § 52A1/2

 

 

Leave--Voting

See "Voting" in this Index

 

 

Libel

See "Defamation" in this Index

 

 

Lie Detector Test

See "Polygraph Test" in this Index

 

 

Marital Status

G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2) (Federal Employees); Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 617-8 (1984) (intimate human associations protected from governmental interference); 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also "Political Association" in this Index

 

 

Maternity Leave

G.L. c. 149, § 105D; G.L. c. 151B, § 4(11A)

 

 

Medical Leave--Exercising or attempting to exercise FMLA rights

Hodgens v. Gen. Dynamics, Corp., 144 F.3d 151, 164 (1st Cir. 1998); 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1); 29 C.F.R. § 825.220

 

 

Mental Facility or Treatment—Refusal to Truthfully Provide Information Relating to Treatment in Mental Facility

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(9)

 

 

Migrant Workers--Exercising Rights

29 U.S.C. § 1855 (Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act); 29 U.S.C. § 1856 (no waiver of rights permitted)

 

 

Military Discrimination

38 U.S.C. § 4311(a)

 

 

Military Discrimination--Opposition to

38 U.S.C. § 4311(b)

 

 

Military Service--Reemployment Rights and Continued Benefits

38 U.S.C. § 4312-4319 (right to reinstatement, reasonable accommodation, qualification, just cause termination, benefit continuation); Lapine v. Town of Wellesley, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5319 (D. Mass.)

 

 

Military Training

G.L. c. 149, § 52A; 38 U.S.C. § 4312

 

 

Minimum Wage

See "Wages" in this Index

 

 

Mining--Reporting Violations

30 U.S.C. § 1293 (Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act); 30 U.S.C. § 815(c)(1) (Federal Mine Safety and Health Act)

 

 

Mismanagement--Reporting

5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(9)(B) (Federal Employees) (including gross waste of funds)

 

 

Misrepresentation

Della Croce v. General Electric Co., 2 IER 1548, 1550 (D. Mass. 1988) (false statements inducing employee to transfer); Baker v. A.W. Chesterton Co., 8 Mass. L. Rptr. No. 18, 408, 408-9 (July 6, 1998) (false statement that plaintiff would be passed through training course, inducing the plaintiff to quit other job); Vitagliano v. The Interface Group--Massachusetts, Inc., 49 Mass. App. 1119, 2000 WL 1476091 (unpublished decision)

 

 

Motor Vehicle Safety

See “Safety—Commercial Motor Vehicles” in this Index

 

 

National Origin Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(2), 4(3); G.L. c. 93, § 102(a); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); G.L. c. 149, § 43; 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2); 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(1)(A) (IRCA); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a), (b), (c), (d), (l), (m), 3(b) (Title VII); 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983; Joseph v. Wentworth Institute of Technology, 120 F. Supp. 2d 134, 138 (D. Mass. 2000) (interpreting 24 U.S.C. § 2000d--Title VI)

 

 

National Origin Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(5) (IRCA); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (Title VII)

 

 

Non-Competition Agreement

See "Contract--Non-Competition" in this Index

 

 

Nuclear Facilities

See “Safety—Nuclear Facilities” in this Index

 

 

Occupational Safety

See "Safety--Occupational" in this Index

 

 

Overtime Wage

See "Wages" in this Index

 

 

Patient Abuse--Reporting

G.L. c. 111, § 72G; Guevin v. Amick, 11 Mass. L. Rptr. No. 26, 599, 600 (July 31, 2000) (public policy)

 

 

Peonage

42 U.S.C. § 1992 (involuntary labor to liquidate debt prohibited)

 

 

Personnel File--Rights to Request Copy, Respond to Negative Materials, and Expunge False Materials

G.L. c. 149, § 52C; see also G.L. c. 151, § 15

 

 

Personnel Manual

See "Contract--Personnel Manual" in this Index

 

 

Plant Closing

G.L. c. 151A, §§ 71A, et seq.; 29 U.S.C. § 2101, et seq.

 

 

Political Association and Speech

G.L. c. 31, §§ 1, 2(b) (civil service); 42 U.S.C. § 1983; First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; 5 U.S.C. §§ 2301(b)(2), 2301(b)(8)(A)

 

 

Polygraph Test--Refusal to Take

G.L. c. 149, § 19B; 29 U.S.C. § 2002

 

 

Polygraph Test--Reporting or Complaining of Unlawful Use

29 U.S.C. § 2002

 

 

Pollution—Air, Reporting Complaints

42 U.S.C., § 7622(a) (Clean Air Act)

 

 

Pollution--Hazardous Substances, Reporting Complaints

42 U.S.C. § 9610 (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act)

 

 

Pollution--Mining

See "Mining" in this Index

 

 

Pollution--Solid Waste

42 U.S.C. § 6971 (Solid Waste Disposal Act)

 

 

Pollution--Toxic

15 U.S.C. § 2622 (Toxic Substances Control Act)

 

 

Pollution--Water

33 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (Federal Water Pollution Control Act); 42 U.S.C. § 300j-9(i) (Safe Drinking Water Act)

 

 

Pregnancy

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(1); G.L. c. 149, § 105(D) (maternity leave); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(k), 2000e-2(a), (b), (c), (d), (l), (m), 3(b) (Title VII); see also "Leave--FMLA" and "Disability--Reasonable Accommodation" in this Index

 

 

Privacy

G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2) (Federal Employees); G. L. c. 214, § 1B; Cort v. Bristol-Myers Co., 385 Mass. 300, 306-7 (1982) (public policy)

 

 

Promissory Estoppel

Reasonable reliance on statements to employee's detriment.  See also "Misrepresentation" and "Relocation" in this Index

 

 

Psychiatric Facility or Treatment—Refusal to Truthfully Provide Information Relating to Treatment in Mental Facility

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(9A)

 

 

Public Accommodation

42 U.S.C. § 2000a-2 (individual may not be punished for exercising right to non-discrimination in public accommodation

 

 

Public Policy

Federici v. Mansfield Credit Union, 399 Mass. 592, 595 (1987) (unlawful to terminate employee in violation of a clearly defined public policy)

 

 

Public School Employee

G.L. c. 71, §§ 41, 42

 

 

Qui Tam

31 U.S.C. § 3729 (individual may recover for reporting fact that an entity is defrauding the Federal government); G.L. c. 12, § 5A (same for Massachusetts governmental entities); see also “Fraud—Reports of Defrauding the Government--Retaliation” in this Index

 

 

Race

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(3); G.L. c. 93, § 102(a); G.L. c. 151A, § 25(e) (unemployment protection for victims of racial harassment); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); G.L. c. 149, § 43; 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a), (b), (c), (d), (l), (m), 3(b) (Title VII); 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983; Joseph v. Wentworth Institute of Technology, 120 F. Supp. 2d 134, 138 (D. Mass. 2000) (interpreting 24 U.S.C. § 2000d--Title VI)

 

 

Race discrimination—Opposing or Complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (Title VII)

 

 

Racketeering

See "Fraud" in this Index; but see Beck v. Prupis, 120 S. Ct. 1608 (2000) (RICO statute generally does not protect employee who was fired by employer in order to cover up racketeering)

 

 

Railroads--Accident Reports

45 U.S.C. § 60 (Railroad Employers Act)

 

 

Railroads--Safety

See "Safety--Railroads" in this Index

 

 

Research Misconduct

42 U.S.C. § 289b (research funded by Public Health Service)

 

 

Religion Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(2), 4(3); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a), (b), (c), (d), (l), (m), 3(b)

 

 

Religion Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (Title VII)

 

 

Religious Practices

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(1A); see City of Boerne v. Flores, 117 S. Ct. 2157 (1997) (invalidating Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb)

 

 

Religious Practices—Request for Accommodation

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4)

 

 

Relocation

Rath, How Relocation Affects the Employment At Will Relationship, 12 The Labor Lawyer, Number 2, 207; Billings v. Dual Manufacturing & Engineering, Inc., 1991 Mass. App. Div. 166; Presto v. Sequoia Systems, Inc., 633 F. Supp. 1117 (D. Mass. 1986) (estoppel claim)

 

 

Reservists--Military

G.L. c. 149, § 52A

 

 

Residency Preference

See Citizenship Preference

 

 

Retaliation

This is a very broad concept.  Ask yourself what type of retaliation you suspect, such reprisals based on complaints of race discrimination, and then look up those subjects in this index

 

 

Retirement--Protection from Involuntary Retirement of Public Employees

G.L. c. 32, §§ 16(1)(a), (b) & (c)

 

 

Retirement Plan--Public Employees

G.L. c. 32, §§ 1, et seq.

 

 

Safety--Airline

49 U.S.C. § 42121

 

 

Safety--Asbestos

See "Asbestos--Reporting

 

 

Safety--Cargo Containers

46 U.S.C. App. § 1506 (International Safe Container Act)

 

 

Safety—Commercial Motor Vehicles, Reporting Complaints

49 U.S.C. § 31105(a) (Surface Transportation Assistance Act); Clean Harbors Environmental Services v. Herman, 146 F.3d 12 (1st Cir. 1998) (internal complaints can be protected conduct)

 

 

Safety--Health Care Providers

G.L. c. 149, § 187; Hobson v. McLean Hosp. Corp., 402 Mass. 413, 416 (1988) (public policy)

 

 

Safety--Mining

See "Mining" in this Index

 

 

Safety—Nuclear Facilities, Reporting Complaints

42 U.S.C. § 5851(a) (Energy Reorganization Act)

 

 

Safety--Occupational, Reporting Complaints

29 U.S.C. 660(c)(1) (Occupational Safety and Health Act); 29 C.F.R. § 1977.3; see also G.L. c. 149, § 6 (persons aggrieved by employer's failure to follow AG's safety rules may file a complaint in District Court)

 

 

Safety--Railroads

49 U.S.C. § 20109 (Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act)

 

 

Safety--Risk to Safety--Public Employees

G.L. c. 149, § 185; 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(9)(B)

 

 

Self-Incrimination--Fifth Amendment

Bellin v. Kelley, 435 Mass. 261, 272 (2001); Carney v. Springfield, 403 Mass. 604 (1988) (Public employees may not be terminated merely because they invoke the Fifth Amendment, although sometimes employees can be fired for refusing to ask specific questions); Garrity v. New Jersey, 87 S. Ct. 616 (1967)

 

 

Sex Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(2), 4(3); G.L. c. 93, § 102(a); G.L. c. 149, § 105A (equal pay); G.L. c. 31, § 1 (civil service); 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (Equal Pay Act); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2); see G.L. c. 31, § 21 (civil service); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a), (b), (c), (d), (l), (m), 3(b); 42 U.S.C. § 1983

 

 

Sex Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); G.L. c. 149, § 105(B) (pay disparity); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (Title VII)

 

 

Sexual Harassment

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(16); c. 214, § 1C; G.L. c. 151A, § 25(e) (unemployment protection for victims of sexual harassment); 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a) (Title VII)

 

 

Sexual Harassment—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 (Title VII)

 

 

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

G.L. c. 151B, §§ 4(1), 4(2), 4(3); see Rosa v. Park West Bank & Trust Co., 214 F.3d 213, 215 (1st Cir. 2000) (Federal laws may be implicated if discrimination is based on failure of plaintiff to conform with defendant's stereotyped view of how genders should act, as opposed to discrimination based on sexual orientation)

 

 

Sexual Orientation Discrimination—Opposing or complaining of

G.L. c. 151B, § 4(4)

 

 

Sick Leave--Exercising or attempting to exercise FMLA rights

Hodgens v. Gen. Dynamics, Corp., 144 F.3d 151, 164 (1st Cir. 1998); 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1); 29 C.F.R. § 825.220.

 

 

Sick Leave--As Reasonable Accommodation for Handicap

Criado v. IBM Corp., 145 F.3d 437, 443-4 (1st Cir. 1998); G.L. c. 151B, § 4(16)

 

 

Speech--Public Concern

42 U.S.C. § 1983 (enforcing First Amendment protections); Pereira v. Commissioner of Social Services, 432 Mass. 251 (2000); 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(2)

 

 

Stockholder in Close Corporation

A minority shareholder in a close corporation with an employment contract is protected not only by the explicit terms of the contract, but also by an implied covenant for the utmost good faith and loyalty.  King v. Driscoll, 424 Mass. 1, 3 (1996); Blank v. Chelmsford Ob/Gyn, 420 Mass. 404, 408 (1995); Donahue v. Rodd Electrotype Co. of New England, Inc., 367 Mass. 578, 586-587 (1975).

 

 

Stock Option Agreement

An employee's stock option agreement may contain provisions according the employee certain rights if terminated without cause

 

 

Stock Repurchase Agreement

King v. Driscoll, 418 Mass. 576 (1994) (damages for wrongful termination include losses resulting from premature repurchase of stock from employee based on otherwise valid, and unbreached stock repurchase agreement)

 

 

Subpoena for Criminal Action--Responding to

G.L. c. 268, § 14B

 

 

Takeover Laws

G.L. c. 149, § 183; but see Simas v. Quaker Fabric Corp., 6 F.3d 849 (1st Cir. 1993) (tin parachute law preempted by ERISA); G.L. c. 149, §20E

 

 

Teacher

See "Public School Employee" in this Index

 

 

Tenant Complaint

G.L. c. 186, § 18; Mogilevsky v. Keating, 11 Mass. L. Rptr. No. 15, 332, 334 (May 15, 2000).

 

 

Union Activity or Testifying

G.L. c. 150A, §§ 4, 4A; G.L. c. 150E, § 10; G.L. c. 149, § 19C; 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)

 

 

Vehicle Safety

See “Safety—Commercial Motor Vehicles” in this Index

 

 

Veteran Discrimination

38 U.S.C. § 4311(a)

 

 

Veteran Discrimination--Opposition to

38 U.S.C. § 4311(b)

 

 

Veteran--Leave for Veterans Day or Memorial Day

See "Leave--Veterans Day" in this Index

 

 

Veteran Preference

G.L. c. 149, § 26 (public works); 38 U.S.C. § 4212, 4214; 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(11); see also Military Service--Reemployment Rights

 

 

Voting

G.L. c. 56, §§ 32, 33 (prohibiting influence of employee's votes); G.L. c. 149, § 178 (right for leave to vote); G.L. c. 56, § 37 (influence of referendum); 5 U.S.C. §§ 2301(b)(2), 2301(8)(A)

 

 

Wages--Compensation Earned or Almost Earned Based on Past Performance of Services

Fortune v. National Cash Register Co., 373 Mass. 96, 104-5 (1977) (termination to avoid paying commissions)

 

 

Wages--Employment Benefits

See "Benefits--Seeking Benefits or Vesting" in this Index

 

 

Wages--Garnishment

See "Credit History" in this index

 

 

Wages--Prevailing--Public Works

G.L. c. 149, § 26, 27, et seq.

 

 

Wages--Seeking Minimum Wage or Overtime Wage

G.L. c. 151, §§ 19(1), (4), (5); 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3) (Fair Labor Standards Act)

 

 

Wages--Seeking Salary and Commissions

G.L. c. 149, § 148A.  But see G.L. c. 154, § 8, limiting coverage of G.L. c. 149, § 148 to payments other than deduction from wages for the purpose of paying union dues, repayment of loans, purchase of stock, etc.

 

 

Water

See "Pollution--Water" in this Index

 

 

Weingarten--Requesting a Witness at an Investigative Conference with an Employer

Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Ohio, 331 NLRB 92 (2000) (applying rule to non-unionized employees)

 

 

Whistleblowing

This is a very broad concept.  Ask yourself what type of whistleblowing is applicable, such as reporting fraud, pollution or safety problems, and then look up those subjects in this index.  See also "Law, violation of--Reporting"

 

 

Wiretapping

Unlawful to use illegally intercepted communication to discipline a subordinate.  See Bartnicki v. Vopper, 121 S. Ct. 1753 (2000), citing Dorris v. Absher, 959 F. Supp. 813, 815-7 (M.D. Tenn. 1997), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 179 F.3d 420 (6th Cir. 1999).

 

 

Witness or Victim--Criminal Trial Participation

G.L. c. 268, § 14B; G.L. c. 258B, § 3(j); Haddle v. Garrison, 119 S. Ct. 489 (1998) (42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) interpreted to prevent an employer from retaliating against an employee for testifying at a criminal trial or for attending grand jury proceedings)

 

 

Witness--Requesting a Witness at an Investigative Conference with an Employer

See "Weingarten" in this Index

 

 

Work-Related Injury

G.L. c. 152, § 75B(1)

 

 

Work-Related Injury--Right to Reasonable Accommodation

G.L. c. 152, § 75B(1)

 

 

Workers Compensation--Rehiring Preference

G.L. c. 152, § 75A

 

 

Workers Compensation--Seeking Rights or Testifying

G.L. c. 152, § 75B(2); 33 U.S.C. § 948a (Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act)

 

 

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