Massachusetts Application Forms laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts Application Forms: What you need to know

The Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Law (FEPL) prohibits employers from using any type of application form that makes any inquiry or expresses any “limitation, specification, or discrimination” as to race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy or a condition related to said pregnancy (including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child), ancestry, status as a veteran, age (40 years and older), or handicap, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 4). The FEPL also prohibits employers from denying initial employment based on a person’s military status.
The FEPL covers employers with six or more employees (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 1).
Retaliation prohibited. It is unlawful for an employer to discharge, expel, or otherwise discriminate against a person who has opposed any discriminatory practice prohibited by the Act.
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The BFOQ exception allows an employer to make an employment inquiry only where the inquiry is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer's business and there is no less intrusive way to ensure that the applicant will be able to perform the essential functions of the job in question. In order to be a BFOQ, a characteristic must be absolutely essential to the applicant's ability to perform the job. For example, being female would be a legitimate BFOQ for a person applying for a job as a model of women's clothing. The BFOQ exception applies only in limited circumstances, and in general, courts have been extremely reluctant to sanction otherwise discriminatory practices on BFOQ grounds. Employers ...

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