We have extensive experience helping victims of Employment Discrimination
Although many individuals who are terminated from their job feel their termination was “wrongful,” especially if it was done without cause, the legal definition of wrongful termination is quite specific. To be wrongfully terminated is to be fired for an illegal reason, which may involve violation of federal anti-discrimination laws or a contractual breach. For instance, an employee cannot be fired on the basis of her race, gender, ethnic background, religion, or disability. It is also illegal to fire an employee because they lodged a legal complaint against the employer, or because the employee brought the employer’s wrongdoing to light as a whistleblower. Such adverse actions are considered “retaliation” and are unlawful.
Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of their age. Under the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act (M.G.L. 151B), companies may not take an adverse employment action against an employee age 40 and over with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment based simply on age.
Gender Discrimination: Facts & Figures
Research indicates that, by conservative estimates, between 10% and 25% of America’s 40 million working women suffer some form of job discrimination every decade. Research also suggests that as little as 5% of the women who experience discrimination take legal action. In a recent poll conducted by The Wage Project, more than half of female employees who believed they had been treated differently based on gender reported taking no action due to fear of retaliation. Under both federal and state law, retaliation for reporting disparate treatment based on gender is illegal.
Gender discrimination can take on many forms, some more obvious than others. Certain traits that are perceived as positive in men may be perceived negatively in women, and women may face obstacles in advancement that men do not encounter. A woman who is better qualified may lose a position to her male counterpart.
Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee’s job performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment. Under hostile work environment harassment, the harassment need not result in an adverse employment action to be actionable. This form of sexual harassment may include:
- Repeated requests for sexual favors
- Demeaning sexual inquiries and vulgarities
- Offensive or degrading language
- Sexually offensive, explicit or sexist signs, cartoons, calendars, literature or photographs displayed in plain view