Revised Massachusetts Anti-SLAPP Law Represents Big Win for Employment Law

April 15, 2024by admin0

SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suits refer to lawsuits brought by individuals and entities to prevent critics from ongoing negative publicity. The Massachusetts legislature passed the anti-SLAPP law in 1994 which was designed to provide defendants with a quick way to dismiss meritless lawsuits. In essence, the anti-SLAPP law protects free speech by thwarting efforts to intimidate individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights through threat of lawsuit. Typically, the individual sued could motion to strike the case if it involved speech on a matter of public concern. The plaintiff then has to show evidence that their claim could result in a favorable verdict. Without proof that the suit could prevail, anti-SLAPP proceedings quickly dismiss the case. Furthermore, many statutes allow defendants to then collect attorney’s fees from the plaintiff. 

However, Massachusetts eventually revised the initial 1994 law to include a second pathway for plaintiffs to defend their suits. This second pathway has been widely criticized for being overly complex and for wasting both time and money. It essentially harmed the very people the anti-SLAPP laws were designed to protect. This includes victims of assault and domestic violence who were denied protection when presented with a SLAPP suit after speaking with law enforcement. Furthermore, defendants in a SLAPP suit would not know whether their speech would be protected at the time of their petitioning. 

The recent decision by the Massachusetts court to throw out this second pathway has been heralded by lawmakers and lawyers across the state. It marks a significant advancement for employees considering whether to speak out on discrimination and for individuals weighing whether to testify in a case. These people now have clear, understandable rules from the start to aid them in making that decision. Pregent Law commends this recent decision by the court protecting free speech and the rights of individuals. If you feel you may be the victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation from speaking out, I encourage you to contact me for a free evaluation. Your best defense is not waiting. 

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