The Protection of Domestic Workers

BabysitterThe Boston Globe recently contained an article that discusses a new law in Massachusetts that seeks to protect workers in the Bay State. In July 2014, the governor of Massachusetts signed into law a Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers. The new law made Massachusetts the fourth state to provide protection for domestic workers. The law protects workers that have generally been ignored concerning workers’ rights such as nannies, caregivers, and housekeepers.

It is estimated that there are nearly 60,000 domestic workers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These types of workers tend to be more vulnerable to exploitation and poor working conditions, as the majority of these workers are women, and many are also immigrants and minorities. The new law specifically grants domestic workers basic labor protections that include more clearly defined working hours and tasks, and working conditions free from sexual harassment, trafficking, and any type of retaliatory behavior due to complaints about wage violations. Along with providing greater benefits for a vulnerable group of workers, the law explicitly allows these workers access to government services and benefits, including workers’ compensation. Therefore, if a nanny or housekeeper is injured while running after a child that they are supposed to take care of or hurt while bending down to vacuum in their employer’s home, that worker should not believe that they are incapable of receiving benefits for their injury.

The Dispute Process Mechanism

The aforementioned article is very important because it is a demonstration of how people who are unsure of their rights regarding workers’ compensation may be deceived by their employers into believing that they have no recourse when they suffer injuries. As the article mentioned, it is important to have laws that offer protection, but it is equally important that there be an information campaign so that people are less likely to believe lies regarding possible claims. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers a guide to workers’ compensation so that people are able to understand the legal process that they face. Additionally, the guide provides information about the dispute process if your employer or employer’s insurance company attempts to deny your claim. As the guide declares, if you face a disputed claim, it is strongly advisable to hire an attorney.

There are generally 5 steps available in the dispute claim process: Conciliation, Conference, Hearing, the Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board, and Further Appeals. Conciliation is an informal meeting between the two legal representatives and the Department of Industrial Accidents. Conference is the next step in which both sides meet before an Administrative Judge so that she may learn more about the case. The following step, Hearing, is a formal legal proceeding in which the judge will render a decision regarding the disputed claim. The Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board can then hear an appeal of the Administrative Judge’s decision. The final step involves an appeal of the Reviewing Board’s decision that goes to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.

If you have questions regarding a workers’ compensation claim, your first step should be to contact the Sheehan Law Firm. We can help you throughout the entire process and answer any questions you may have.

Photo Credit: Images by John ‘K’ via Compfight cc

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