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What is the difference between an “employee at- will” and a “contract employee”?

Contract Employee vs. Employee At-Will
Identifying the type of employment agreement you have is a vital step to understanding what your legal rights are if you are terminated from your employment.

It could be argued that all employees are contract employees, insofar as there was an offer of employment, acceptance of the employment duties and consideration – a promise of work for the promise of payment. In some instances these components can create a legally binding contract. Massachusetts, however, recognizes two distinct categories of employment relationships: (1) “contract employees”, and (2) “at-will” employees.

Contract Employees

Those employees who are not “at-will” employees are more than likely “contract employees.” This contract may have been entered into in writing, orally, or be implied by actions of the employer.

In Massachusetts, a written employment contract is generally enforceable according to the terms of the contract. This means that if a contract has specific terms outlining compensation, benefits, or how and why an employee can be terminated, the employer is legally obligated to adhere to the terms of the contract. If the employer does not adhere to these terms and provisions, the employee may be able to seek damages as a result of the breach of the employment contract. This also means however, that an employer may be able to sue the employee for damages as well if the employee is the one who breaches the agreement.

Oral contracts and implied contracts are two other examples of ways that an employee may not be considered an employee “at-will.” Massachusetts case law has held that oral employment contracts which may arise “from various representations and negotiations between the parties” may be enforceable. See, Frederick v. ConAgra, Inc. ,713 F. Supp. 41, 44 (D. Mass. 1989). […]

What types of comments and conduct constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
There are two basic categories of sexual harassment under Federal and Massachusetts law. The various types of sexual comments and sexual conduct should be considered with respect to these two categories of sexual harassment.

The two basic categories of sexual harassment are as follows:

1) “Quid Pro Quo” sexual harassment, and

2) “Hostile Work Environment” sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 151B defines “quid pro quo” sexual harassment as: “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when . . . submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions.”

In other words, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee with authority or control over another employee, offers that employee an employment benefit or advantage in exchange for sexual favors or sexual gratification. Quid pro quo sexual harassment also occurs if an employee is denied an employment benefit or advantage after refusing or rejecting a request for sexual favors or sexual acts. Examples of employment benefits or advantages include continued employment/termination, demotion/promotion, alteration of job duties, transfer of job location, changes to hours or compensation, warnings, and inaccurate job performance evaluations and reviews.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 151B defines “hostile work environment” sexual harassment as: “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when . . . such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.”

In other words, hostile work […]

Coming soon – A List of topics we will cover

The following is a list of topics we will cover:
1. What types of comments and conduct constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?
2. Can unwelcome sexual comments or conduct from a person of the same gender form the basis for sexual harassment?
3. May an employer discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religious creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, or military status?
4. Are employers allowed to discriminate against an employee based on alcoholism or drug addiction?
5. May an employer retaliate against an employee for complaining about sexual harassment, discrimination, unpaid wages or other categories protected by law?
6. Are Massachusetts employers required to provide medical leave, disability accommodations, or leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
7. If I am fired from my job for unfair reasons do I have a cause of action for “wrongful termination” in Massachusetts?;
8. What is the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?
9. What is the difference between an “employee at will” and a “contract employee”?
10. What recourse do I have if my employer has failed to provide payment of wages, overtime, or vacation pay in Massachusetts?
11. What are the rights and remedies for Massachusetts employees who have been misclassified as an “independent contractor”?
12. What is a “whistleblower” and are there special protections given to whistleblowers?
13. What are the […]