Learn about wage and hour laws, earned sick time, meal breaks, overtime rules, independent contractor laws, and other workplace-related state laws, and file a workplace complaint.
Businesses in the “underground economy” may pay workers less than minimum wage, not pay time-and-a-half for overtime work, pay their workers “under the table” or “off the books,” or misclassify their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying into the unemployment system and/or for workers’ compensation insurance, and refuse to withhold taxes. You can file an anonymous tip with the CUE if you believe a Massachusetts employer has done something like this or is paying you as a 1099 worker instead of a W-2 employee. The CUE engages in coordinated enforcement actions and investigations between state and federal agencies based on the tips it receives through its hotline and website.
If you’re out of work, and able to work, you may be eligible for temporary income called unemployment insurance (UI). If you qualify, you receive weekly payments to help cover your living expenses while you search for new employment. The UI program for Massachusetts is managed by the DUA.
The Fair Employment Project
The Fair Employment Project is a good place for low-income workers to start if they are trying to figure out what rights they may have and where to seek help.
Massachusetts Legal Aid Corporation (MLAC)
If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, there are free legal services available throughout the state for people who meet certain income guidelines. A list of the organizations that may be able to help you with employment, unemployment, and other legal issues can be found on the website of the Massachusetts Legal Aid Corporation.
Volunteer Lawyer’s Program
You may also be able to get a volunteer lawyer through the Volunteer Lawyers Project.
Justice at Work
For workers at workplaces that are not unionized but are interested in changing working conditions to the benefit of everyone, Justice at Work might be able to help.
It is against the law in Massachusetts to treat people unfairly based on a “protected class,” such as race, national origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly based on one of these bases, you may file a Complaint of Discrimination at the MCAD. MCAD investigates and prosecutes Complaints of Discrimination in employment, and other areas, but you must file your Complaint of Discrimination within 300 days of the last discriminatory act.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides information about and enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Employees in Massachusetts can file a charge of discrimination at the EEOC (as an alternative to filing at the MCAD). Federal employees must file changes of discrimination with the EEOC. To learn more or to file a charge, go to their website.
Paid family and medical leave (PFML) is a program designed to help people in Massachusetts take paid time off of work for family or medical reasons. Learn more about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, including what it covers, whether you may be eligible, and how to begin.