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Massachusetts Judiciary Opens New Door to Challenge At-Will Employment

Published:  January 4, 2022

As employers know, in Massachusetts, an employer is required by law to notify an employee if the employer either modifies or adds information to their personnel file which can negatively impact their employment circumstances. The employee may then inspect their personnel file and submit a rebuttal, explaining their position on the employer’s modifications. This rebuttal statement must be included in the employee’s personnel file whenever it is transferred to a third party. It is important to note that a rebuttal does not provide any other right or further job protections; it is simply meant to “memorialize an employee’s position.”

In a recent decision, the highest court in the Commonwealth addressed an employee rebuttal contained in a personnel file. In Meehan v. Med. Info. Tech., Inc., the employer had terminated an employee based solely upon the contents of the rebuttal in the employee’s personnel file.  The Court ruled that an employer may not terminate an employee solely for what is written in the rebuttal, no matter how “intemperate and contentious”, reasoning that accuracy in a personnel file is extremely important for both current and future employers, as it ensures employees will be fairly evaluated by new employers and employers can be properly informed in making hiring decisions.

Employers, obviously, may still terminate employees for any legal reason unrelated to the filing of a rebuttal itself, or its contents.

If you have questions about at-will employment, or any other general employment issues, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at The Royal Law Firm at 413-586-2288.