Massachusetts ADA laws & safety compliance analysis

Massachusetts ADA: What you need to know

Comparison: State vs. Federal
Prohibited Practices

The Massachusetts Fair Employment Practice Act (FEPA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate against a qualified handicapped person on the basis of the person's handicap. The FEPA covers private employers with six or more employees and all public employers (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 1 et seq.). An employer may not ask an applicant about the existence, nature, or severity of a handicap. Employers may condition an offer of employment on the results of a medical examination conducted solely to determine whether the employee is capable of performing the essential functions of the job with reasonable accommodation (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 151B Sec. 4(16)).

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Associational discrimination. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that the FEPA prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee based on his or her relationship or association with a person who has a disability (Flagg v. AliMed, Inc., 992 N.E.2d 354 (2013)). The employee in this case claimed his employer fired him because it did not want to pay the substantial medical expenses resulting from his wife's disability. In reaching its conclusion, the court noted that "when an employer takes adverse action against its employee because of his spouse's impairment, it is targeting the employee as the direct victim of its animus, inflicting punishment for exactly the same reason and in exactly the same way as if the employee were handicapped himself."

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expressly prohibits covered employers from discrimination based on an employee's relationship or association with a person who has a disability.

Medical marijuana. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that under ...

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