Archives for January 2011

Can my current employer give a potential employer a bad reference about me?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The short answer to this question is yes, your employer can say whatever he or she likes about you and your work performance to a potential new employer who might call for a reference. As long as the information provided is true – and even, to a large degree, if it isn’t – the law won’t provide you any redress if the boss undermines your prospects for moving on. [Read more…]

White-on-White Race Harassment Declared Illegal

In an unusual case before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, harassment by one white male employee of another has been found to violate state law. The Commission concluded that the harassment, which focused on the victim’s interracial relationship and included the use of terms such as “porch monkey lover” and others, targeted the victim because of his association with a black woman. The Commission found the conduct frequent and pervasive enough to justify an award of $60,000 in damages and fines.

The uniqueness of the facts of this case notwithstanding, its lessons for other businesses remain debatable. The Respondent in Grzych v. Amercian Reclamation Corp., et. al. was not represented by an attorney. He opted to try the case at the MCAD himself and apparently offered no testimony, a decision that may have made it easier for the MCAD to decide against him.  Whatever the respondent’s reasons for not retaining counsel, he likely regrets the decision now. The fact is that discrimination law is far too complex and the workings of the MCAD are far too idiosyncratic to be handled without an experienced employment lawyer.