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Massachusetts Whistleblower Laws

Most states have laws that prohibit retaliation, including termination or demotion, against employees who report dangerous, unethical, or otherwise unsavory acts by their employer. These so-called "whistleblower" laws protect employees who otherwise might not step forward with important information. Unlike some other states, Massachusetts whistleblower only apply to public employers and have many qualifiers included.

Learn more about Massachusetts' whistleblower laws in the following table. See Whistleblower Retaliation Could Land You in Trouble and the below links for more information.

Code Section

Massachusetts’ whistleblower law is located in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 149, section 185.

Prohibited Employer Activity

An employer cannot discharge, suspend, demote, or take any other retaliatory action against an employee if the employee does one of the following:

  • Discloses or threatens to disclose a policy or practice that the employee believes is a violation of law or rule or is a risk to public health, safety or the environment;
  • Provides information for an investigation or testifies at a hearing or inquiry about possible employer misconduct; or
  • Objects or refuses to participate in violation of law or rule or practice that poses a risk to public health, safety, or environment

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Massachusetts’ whistleblower laws apply to public employees.

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

An employee must give written notice of the violation to the employer and allow the employer the opportunity to correct the issue unless one of the following applies:

  • The employee is certain supervisors know of violation and the situation is an emergency;
  •  The employee reasonably fears physical harm will result from disclosure; or
  • Unless the disclosure is evidence of a crime.

Remedies

Within two years of any retaliatory actions, an employee or former employee can file civil action. The employee has the right to request a jury trial if desired.

A judge can give all civil law tort remedies available including:

  • Issuing a temporary restraining order;
  • Granting a preliminary/permanent injunction;
  • Reinstatement to previous job with full benefits and seniority rights
  • Back pay, benefits, and court and attorney's fees paid by the employer.

For more information about your rights as an employee, or if you believe your employer has retaliated against you for revealing company or employer misconduct, you may want to contact a Massachusetts employment law attorney for assistance. 

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