What Massachusetts Laws Prohibit Employment Discrimination Against the LGBT Community?
With all the discussion lately about some states passing laws restricting who can go in which restroom, it bears repeating that Massachusetts has some of the best protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) in the country.
Although the laws are still catching up with the times in some places, there are numerous ways that the LGBT community in Massachusetts may obtain legal relief if their rights are being violated.
Generally speaking, people who are transgender have a gender identity that differs from that of their birth or that does not conform to stereotypical societal definitions. Massachusetts law specifically protects transgender people from discrimination in employment. The law says that it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate in any way based on “gender identity.” This law is called “Chapter 151B” (it’s just short for the chapter of the Massachusetts general laws that it’s contained in).
Discrimination based on “sexual orientation” is also prohibited under Chapter 151B. This means that employers may not treat lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in a discriminatory way.
So what happens if your employer breaks the law and fires you, demotes you, or takes some other adverse action based on being LGBT? You have the right to have an attorney file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and even to take the case to Massachusetts Superior Court.
There are also other areas of life in which Massachusetts law protects the LGBT community. One law, in particular, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the following areas: labor unions, employment applications, insurance, mortgage loans, real estate sales, apartment leases, commercial leases, and credit applications. This law is Mass. General Law chapter 4, section 7.
Finally, there are protections in what are called “places of public accommodation,” such as a retail store or a restaurant.. The law expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. It does not directly prohibit gender identity discrimination, which could be problematic for transgender people. However, transgender people are probably protected if someone is sex-stereotyping them. LGBT rights groups are currently working to amend the law to make this clear.
If you feel you have been discriminated against because you are LGBT, you have rights under Massachusetts law that protect you and that can help get you justice. Contact us to see if we can help.