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Frequently Asked Questions With Regards to Massachusetts Sexual Harassment and Massachusetts Sexual Assault ("FAQ")

Can Massachusetts sexual harassment occur between members of the same sex?


Massachusetts sexual harassment can occur between a supervisor and employee of the same sex. The same laws and standards regarding sexual harassment between members of opposite sexes apply to same-sex Massachusetts sexual harassment cases. Massachusetts sexual harassment between members of the same sex is also not limited to instances in which the harasser is homosexual. Massachusetts sexual harassment does not need to be based on sexual desire or even discrimination to be considered sexual harassment, but rather only needs to be hostile in its intent.

Are there laws regarding my employer’s sexual harassment policy?

Massachusetts law mandates that Massachusetts employers with more than five employees create a written policy condemning Massachusetts sexual harassment and outlining the company’s policies regarding filing a Massachusetts sexual harassment claim. The policy must state that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful and that it is illegal to retaliate against an employee for filing a Massachusetts sexual harassment complaint. Additionally, the employer’s commitment to investigate any complaints of Massachusetts sexual harassment must be included in the document, and the document must be made available to all employees. The failure of an employer to meet these requirements may result in fines and greater awards of damages to victims of Massachusetts sexual harassment.

Can Massachusetts sexual harassment occur outside of the workplace?

Massachusetts sexual harassment can and does occur between coworkers and employers outside of their places of work. When investigating cases of alleged Massachusetts sexual harassment that occur outside of the workplace, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination may consider the following elements to determine whether the situation constitutes Massachusetts sexual harassment:

  • Whether the event where the sexual harassment occurred was connected at all to the workplace, including an employer-sponsored function
  • The work relationship between the complainant and the alleged harasser, including their contact with one another at the workplace
  • Whether the sexual conduct occurred during work hours
  • The severity of the sexual harassment
  • The effects of the sexual harassment on the complainant’s work environment
  • Whether the complainant’s terms and conditions of employment were adversely impacted by the sexual conduct

Is there a statute of limitations to file a Massachusetts sexual harassment claim?


A Massachusetts sexual harassment claim must be filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination within 300 days of the alleged sexual behavior. Therefore, it is critical to act quickly to protect your rights. Contact one of our experienced Boston sexual harassment lawyers immediately at 617-787-3700 if you feel that you have been sexually harassed at the workplace. There may be some exceptions, such as in cases of continuous abuse, which our Boston, MA sexual harassment lawyers can discuss in greater detail with you.

What if I continue to be harassed?

The Massachusetts statute of limitations requiring that a claim be filed within 300 days after an incident of sexual harassment does not apply when the sexual conduct is of a continuing nature. If the situation involves a pattern of repeated sexual conduct cumulatively resulting in an offensive or hostile work environment over time, the applicable filing period is extended.

A Massachusetts serial continuing violation occurs when:

  1. At least one incident of sexual harassment happens within the past 300 days
  2. The instances of sexual harassment are recurrent and related
  3. The complainant’s delay in filing the claim is not unreasonable

Generally, in this case, a claim can be filed within 300 days of the last act of discrimination and will include damages for all previous related instances of Massachusetts sexual harassment. This exception recognizes the fact that incidents of sexual harassment viewed in isolation may not be sufficient to constitute sexual harassment, but when viewed as an accumulation of incidents over a prolonged period that creates a seriously hostile work environment, the validity of the claim changes.

What if the harassment becomes so unbearable that I have to resign from my job?

When Massachusetts sexual harassment becomes so intolerable that the complainant leaves his or her job, Massachusetts law considers the resignation as a discharge known as “constructive discharge.” In order to prove Massachusetts constructive discharge, an employee must show that he or she left the job due to a workplace situation about which any reasonable individual in the same position would have also felt the need to resign. While constructive discharge is not necessary to file a Massachusetts sexual harassment claim, it does provide an additional basis for damages for the claim.

Massachusetts sexual harassment in both the form of verbal or physical sexual comments and behaviors can lead to a work environment that is so offensive that the employee feels compelled or forced to leave. A Massachusetts constructive discharge claim is likely to be most successful when the harassment has gone on for a long period of time, and despite employee complaints, insufficient or no action has been taken to remedy the situation. The employee has the responsibility of showing that it was not likely that the sexual harassment would have been properly addressed and resolved within a reasonable amount of time. If the employer was not given a reasonable opportunity to fully investigate and take remedial action for the alleged sexual harassment, or if the employer has responded quickly and effectively to the complaint without retaliation, it is unlikely that a Massachusetts court will consider a resignation to amount to constructive discharge.

If you are experiencing Massachusetts sexual harassment in your Massachusetts place of work, you may be concerned about leaving your job in a poor job market. While it is never a good idea to accept an abusive work environment, you should consider other alternatives to resolve the situation before you quit your job. An employee experiencing sexual harassment must make it clear to the perpetrator that the sexual advances are unwelcome, and must also pursue reasonable alternatives to resignation in order to establish constructive discharge. One option is to discuss the sexual harassment with a delegated individual and file an internal complaint. You could also file a complaint with a civil rights organization which will conduct an investigation and work to remedy the situation. Most importantly, an experienced Boston sexual harassment lawyer can help you file a claim and make sure that you are taking the best steps to pursue your claim and get the justice you deserve. Call the Massachusetts sexual harassment attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates today at 617-787-3700 or email us at and put our expertise to work for you.

Is it legal for my Massachusetts employer to fire me for filing a Massachusetts sexual harassment complaint?


According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151B, Section 4(4), it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate or take other adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity involved in filing a complaint alleging Massachusetts sexual harassment.

In order to prove retaliation, the claimant must demonstrate that:

  1. He or she engaged in a protected activity
  2. His or her employer knew about this protected activity and took adverse action towards the claimant’s employment
  3. There was a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action

Protected Massachusetts activities include:

A Massachusetts complainant must prove that her participation in a protected activity, such as filing a Massachusetts sexual harassment claim, was the factor determining her employer’s retaliation, namely that filing a complaint against her employer for sexual harassment directly caused her employer to attempt to illegally punish her through firing, demoting or otherwise interfering with her employment.

What is the difference between Massachusetts gender discrimination and Massachusetts sexual harassment?

In Massachusetts sexual harassment cases, the alleged inappropriate conduct must be sexual in nature, not simply derogatory or offensive. In a successful sexual harassment case, sexual advances must be shown to be unwelcome and pervasive, not just incidental. Gender discrimination, while it may also negatively interfere with an individual’s job performance, differs from sexual harassment in that the inappropriate behavior is not necessarily sexual in nature, and instead may take the form of derogatory remarks that attack the complainant’s status as a male or female.


If more convenient for you, Attorney Gilbert Hoy will be happy to travel to your home, your office or another place of your choice to meet with you to discuss your needs regarding your Massachusetts sexual harassment claim.

Please feel free to contact our Boston, MA sexual harassment attorneys 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 617-787-3700 or email us at Even if you get our answering service, please leave a message for us. One of our expert Boston, Massachusetts sexual harassment law attorneys will call you back right away.

Frequently Asked Questions With Regards to Massachusetts Sexual Assault

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault encompasses a category of sexual attacks, including rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual contact or threats, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, sodomy, fondling and indecent exposure. Generally, sexual assault occurs when an individual or group of individuals touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual manner without that person’s consent, either express or implied.

Am I a victim of sexual assault under Massachusetts law?

It depends on the facts of your case. Anyone can be unfortunate enough to be a victim of sexual assault. Also, as a victim, you should not be influenced as to who the offender is. The assaulter may be a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend or even a family member. Whoever the offender may be, the victim will still be considered a victim of sexual assault so long as he or she can prove that sexual contact occurred and that he or she did not provide consent.

What type of effects will I experience as a victim of sexual assault?

Every victim of sexual assault is likely to react in a different way. A number of factors can contribute to the type of reaction demonstrated, including the maturity of the victim, familial support, relationship to the offender, police response to the attack, the frequency and duration of the attack(s), the level of violence, the severity of the injuries and community attitudes.

More often than not, victims will also experience physical effects, including pain, injuries, nausea, vomiting and headaches. In addition to physical injuries, sexual assault often affects a victim’s emotional and psychological well-being even more severely. These types of effects may include shock, denial, depression, detachment, nightmares, diminished interest in activities, loss of self-esteem, loss of trust in others, guilt, shame, loss of appetite and even suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, some victims will even suffer from physiological effects, such as insomnia, panic attacks, eating disorders and sexual dysfunction.

What if I provided consent to my attacker but it was not voluntary?

It is a general rule that if the victim consented to the sexual contact, the offender will not be considered to have committed sexual assault. However, there are circumstances where the victim’s consent may be void. Consent will be void, for example, if the offender used force or threats, the victim was unconscious, the victim was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the victim was a minor or the victim was suffering from a mental illness.

What is Massachusetts law governing sexual assault?

Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 265, Section 22(a), rape is defined as occurring when an individual “has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person, and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury and if either such sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse results in or is committed with acts resulting in serious bodily injury, or is committed by a joint enterprise, or is committed during the commission or attempted commission of an offense.”

Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 265, Section 22(b) sets forth the punishment that may be received after a rape conviction. It states that “whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury, shall be punished by no underlining imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years; and whoever commits a second or subsequent such offense shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term or years.” Moreover, for the forcible rape of a child, the statutory rape of a child or the aggravated rape of an adult, the offender can be sentenced to life in prison for his or her first offense.

Are there any statistics pertaining to Massachusetts sexual assaults?

About 73% of female sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. Additionally, in 2005, 92% of rape or sexual assault victims were female. Additionally, those women between 16-19 years of age had the highest victimization rate. Surprisingly, only 39% of all rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. Finally, between 1999 and 2000, all rapes, 39% of attempted rapes, and 17% of sexual assaults against females, resulted in injuries.

If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted, please contact our highly experienced Boston, MA sexual assault attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates at (617) 787-3700.

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