According to the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, your employer can’t threaten, intimidate, or coerce you if it interferes with one of your state or constitutional rights. But if you’re an at-will employee, you don’t have a right to your job.
For example, in a recent Massachusetts case, two at-will employees started dating. The woman lost her job and found work at a rival firm. When the worker’s employer found out the two had become engaged, the worker received an ultimatum: either the worker force his fiancée to quit her job, or resign within twenty-four hours. Otherwise he’d be fired.
In the event of his firing, the worker couldn’t maintain a clear right to his employment because he was an at-will employee. Nevertheless, the husband-to-be left his employment, and filed a lawsuit he was destined to lose.
That’s right, as long as your employer does not actually threaten your state or constitutional rights, then you may be subjected to similar ultimatums.
Fortunately, most employers realize that threatening at-will employees is a poor way to maintain morale, and many employee handbooks either protect employees from this by providing human resource avenues for internal complaints. It is important to be aware, however, that the state prohibits certain kinds of discrimination, so if you think that a threat to employment might really be about your race, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, gender, or another protected class, then you should consider contacting an employment law attorney.
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