Know your rights and responsibilities as a youth worker
This page is a collaboration of the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. If you believe your employer has failed to follow any of the laws described below, you may file a workplace complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
- Refuse to perform a task if it threatens your immediate safety
- File a health and safety complaint with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Labor Standards (DLS)
- Work without racial or sexual harassment
- Join or organize a union
- Go to training programs, or ask for training if there are no programs
- Use correct safety techniques when working
- Read chemical labels and follow instructions
- Ask questions if you are not sure about something
- Ask a responsible adult, like a co-worker, parent, guardian, or teacher, if you need help talking to your boss
- Keep your work area clean and neat
- Keep calm around angry customers. Call your supervisor if you feel threatened.
- Tell your supervisor right away, even if you think the injury is not serious.
- Get medical treatment, even if you have to leave work.
- Tell your parent or guardian about your injury.
When it comes to pay, employers must:
- pay you at least the Massachusetts minimum wage for all hours you work
- pay you 1.5 times your regular pay for every hour over 40 that you work in a week
- let you keep all your tips or your share of a valid tip pool
- pay for your medical care (and maybe lost wages) if you get hurt or sick because of your job, and
- let you earn and use up to 40 hours of sick leave a year.
Job-related illness or injury
- medical treatment for your work-related injury or illness paid for by your employer
- some of your lost wages if you are unable to work for five or more calendar days because of the injury or illness (these five days do not have to be in a row)
- double compensation if child labor laws were not followed when you got injured, and
- other benefits if you become permanently disabled.
- how old you are
- how many hours a week you work
- how you are paid
- your immigration status, and
- who or what caused your work-related injury or illness.
In most cases, employers must not pay you less for doing the same or comparable work as another employee of a different gender. They must also not discriminate in hiring, pay, or other benefits based on your:
- age, race, or color
- religion, national origin, or ancestry
- sex (including pregnancy)
- sexual orientation or gender identity or expression
- genetic information or disability, or
- military service.
If you believe you have been unlawfully discriminated against by your employer, you may file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office.
The Attorney General’s Office serves all workers, regardless of immigration status. Know your rights as an immigrant worker.
Illegal jobs for certain ages
- cook (except on electric or gas grills that do not have open flames), operate fryolators, rotisseries, NIECO broilers, or pressure cookers
- operate, clean, or repair power-driven machinery
- work in freezers or meat coolers
- perform any baking activities
- Clean kitchen surfaces that are hotter than 100˚F
- work in or near factories, construction sites, manufacturing plants, mechanized workplaces, garages, tunnels
- filter, transport, or dispose of cooking oil or grease hotter than 100˚F
- load or unload trucks
- work on or use ladders, scaffolds, or their substitutes
- ride in or on a motor vehicle (except in passenger seat if wearing a seatbelt), or
- work in any occupation or task prohibited for someone under age 18.
- drive a motor vehicle or forklift on the job
- work at a job that requires having or using a firearm
- use, clean or repair certain kinds of power-driven machines, including meat slicers, grinders, choppers and processors
- handle, serve, or sell alcoholic beverages
- use, service, drive, or work from hoisting machines
- operate or load power-driven balers, compactors, or paper-processing machines
- work 30 or more feet off the ground
- work in roofing or on or about a roof (for example, installing solar panels)
- work in excavation, wrecking, or demolition, or
- use circular, chain, or band saws, guillotine shears, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs.
If you are applying for a job in Massachusetts, most employers are not allowed to ask you about your criminal history on the first application. They may ask you some questions later. Learn more about your rights.
Project Opportunity can connect you with a volunteer lawyer who will review your record with you for free. Just fill out this form and a lawyer will get in touch with you.