Massachusetts Bill Aims to Bar Waivers of Rights Related to Harassment, Discrimination, and Wage and Hour Claims in Employment Contracts

Waivers of rights arising from harassment and discrimination claims and disputes over wages and benefits may not be enforceable in Massachusetts for much longer. The legislature is currently considering a bill that would render such waivers in employment contracts void and unenforceable. The bill, introduced last fall in the midst of the national spotlight on sexual harassment, is now before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

If passed, any provision in an employment contract compelling arbitration of certain employment and discrimination claims, including retaliation, prohibiting an employee from discussing the allegations of those claims, or waiving any other right or remedy concerning those claims would be void and unenforceable. Employers also could not retaliate against an employee who refuses to sign an agreement containing such a waiver. Anyone who tried to enforce the waiver would be liable for attorney’s fees and costs.

Conn Kavanaugh will continue to monitor this bill and other related legislation. If you have any questions about the current legality of your organization’s employment agreements or policies, contact one of Conn Kavanaugh’s experienced employment lawyers.

CATHERINE M. DIVITA

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