Self-Discovery is a Protected Activity for Massachusetts Employees When Filing a Discrimination Complaint

by | Nov 4, 2021 | Employment Law |

In Verdrager v. Mintz Levin, the Supreme Judicial Court answered a question of first impression under Massachusetts law: Do the anti-retaliation provisions of state anti-discrimination law protect an employee who accesses her employer’s documents to support her employment discrimination claim?  The SJC held that, under certain circumstances, such activity may be “protected,” thereby precluding an employer from taking any adverse employment action based on that activity.  The decision examined the interplay between “self-help discovery,” or searches of employer materials outside the formal litigation discovery process, and the protections of the Commonwealth’s chief anti-bias statute, G.L. c. 151B, which bars retaliation against plaintiffs who engage in “protected activity.”  G.L. c. 151B, §4(4).  The SJC articulated the standards to be applied in determining whether employee acts of self-help discovery are protected, and specified limits on that protection.

The court concluded that such conduct may in certain circumstances constitute protected activity under that statute, but only if the employee’s actions are reasonable in the totality of the circumstances.

M.G.L. c. 151B protects applicants and employees from discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, benefits, training, classification and other aspects of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin (including unlawful language proficiency requirements), age (if you are 40 years old or older), sex (including pregnancy), gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, ancestry, and military service.

If you feel you have been harassed or discriminated against, you should contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour confidential consultation to discuss your concerns.

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