Monday, March 3, 2008

Massachusetts Law is More Friendly to the Disabled then Federal Law

In yet another great example of how Massachusetts law is more favorable to discriminated employees than its Federal equivalent, the Federal Courts have limited the statute of limitations on filing wage discrimination claims. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled this past summer that statutory limitation provision in Title VII require that employees file wage discrimination claims with the EEOC within 180 days of the employer s initial decision that resulted in the discriminatory salary. Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire 127 S. Ct. 2162 (2007).The prevailing law prior to this holding was that each discriminatory act would constitute a unique discriminatory act. The decision significantly limits an employee s rights under the Federal system. If an employee is hired at a lower salary then another similarly situated employee, then the disparate salary of each paycheck would not constitute a continuing violation, as it likely would pursuant to Massachusetts law. Massachusetts courts have held that the 180-day limitation will not apply when the unlawful conduct complained of is of a continuing nature. This exception recognizes that some claims of discrimination involve a series of related events that have to be viewed in their totality in order to assess adequately their discriminatory nature and impact. Although the limitations clock generally starts with the commission of a discriminatory act, a true continuing violation rewinds the clock for each discriminatory episode along the way. Cuddyer v. Stop and Shop Supermarket Co., 434 Mass. 521 (2001). Where there is a determination of a continuing violation within the statutory limitations period of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is timely filed even though some, or a large portion, of the discriminatory conduct may have taken place more than six months prior to the complaint. ID. Both the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the Appeals Court have relied on the continuing violation doctrine to permit plaintiffs to seek damages, if the alleged events are part of an ongoing pattern of discrimination, and there is a discrete violation within the six-month limitations period to anchor the earlier claims. The forgoing article was written by Attorney Michael Goldstein of the Law Firm Goldstein and Clegg, LLC, a plaintiff s employment law firm

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