Legal Information: Massachusetts

Massachusetts Workplace Protections

Workplace Protections

Massachusetts state law provides employment protections for victims of abuse and employees who have family members who are victims of abuse. Victims can take time off of work and cannot be discriminated against.

Basic info

Who is protected under this law?

Under Massachusetts state law, you may be protected if:

  • you or your family member are a victim of abuse;1 and
  • you work for an employer who has 50 or more employees.2

1 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(b)(i)
2 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(c)

How does this law protect me?

If you qualify for protection under this law, your employer must allow you to take leave from work, up to 15 days off of work in a 12-month period. You can take these days off of work if:

  • you or your family member are a victim of abuse – however, you cannot be the one who abused your family member; and
  • you are using the days off to:
    1. look for or get:
      • medical attention;
      • victim services or legal help;
      • housing; or
      • a protective order from court;
    2. appear before a judge or grand jury;
    3. meet with a district attorney or other law enforcement official;
    4. attend child custody proceedings; or
    5. address other issues directly related to the abusive behavior against you or your family member.1

1 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(b)

What you must provide to your employer

Do I need to give my employer any written proof (documentation) if I take time off?

Your employer can require you to give proof that:

  1. you or your family member have been a victim of abusive behavior; and
  2. you are taking leave for a reason allowed under this law.1

You can show proof by giving your employer any one of the following documents:

  • a protective order or other similar order;
  • a document on the letterhead of the court, service provider, or public agency where you or your family member got help related to the abusive behavior;
  • a police report or statement that the victim or a witness made about the abusive behavior;
  • documentation that the abuser has admitted to enough facts that would allow a judge to find him/her guilty of the abusive behavior;
  • documentation of a conviction of the abusive behavior;
  • if the abuser is a juvenile, documentation of a “finding” by a judge that the abuser is a juvenile delinquent because of an offense that is considered abusive behavior;
  • medical documentation that you or your family member were treated for the abusive behavior;
  • a sworn statement from a counselor, social worker, health care worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker, legal advocate, or other professional who has helped you or your family member; or
  • a sworn statement that is signed under penalty of perjury stating that you or your family member have been the victim of abusive behavior.2

1 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(e)
2 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(e)

Do I need to give my employer notice before taking time off?

You must give your employer notice before you take the days off. You can give your employer notice in the same way as you usually do according to your employer’s leave policy. However, if you cannot give advance notice because your health or safety is in immediate danger, you or someone on your behalf (such as a family member, pastor, or counselor) must notify your employer within three workdays after you take the days off.1

1 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(d)

What your employer can and cannot do

Does my employer have to pay me if I take leave under this law?

Your employer can decide whether the leave you use is paid or unpaid.1 Before requesting leave under this law, you must first use your annual, vacation, personal, or sick leave if you have any.2

1 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(b)
2 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(g)

I am afraid that my employer will tell other co-workers about my situation. Is this legal?

The law requires your employer to keep information about your leave and the related domestic abuse confidential.1 For example, your employer cannot tell your co-workers, your clients, or other employers that you took time off to deal with domestic violence.

Your employer can share information about your leave and the related domestic abuse if:

  • you ask your employer to do so in writing;
  • your employer asks you if it’s OK to do so and you give written consent to your employer to share that information;
  • a court orders your employer to release the information;
  • your employer must release the information because of federal or state law;
  • sharing information is required as part of an investigation approved by law enforcement; or
  • sharing the information is needed to protect your safety or your coworkers’ safety.1

1 M.G.L. 149 § 52E(f)

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