Massachusetts Hiring laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts Hiring: What you need to know

Discrimination. The Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) prohibits hiring practices that discriminate based on race; color; natural or protective hairstyle;religious creed; national origin; sex; gender identity; sexual orientation; genetic information; pregnancy or related conditions, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child; ancestry; status as a veteran; age (40 years and older); military status; or handicap unless the characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification.
The FEPA applies to all public employers and to private employers with six or more employees (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 1 et seq.). More information is available at the Massachusetts Discrimination and Disability (ADA) sections.
Marital status. State regulations prohibit employers from making any distinction between married and unmarried women that is not made between married and unmarried men, and vice versa (Mass. Admin. Code tit. 804, § 3.01(4)(a)(5)).
Mental illness. Employers may not request information regarding a prior admission to a mental care facility if an applicant has been discharged from the facility and is no longer undergoing treatment. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against any applicant or employee based on the nondisclosure of a prior admission to a mental care facility, unless based upon a BFOQ (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4(9A)).
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Veterans’ preference. A private, nonpublic employer may give preference in hiring to a veteran, the spouse of a disabled veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 44 3/4). In public employment, veterans are entitled to preference in hiring (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 31, § 26).
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