Generally, Massachusetts law does not restrict private communications involving opinions, including performance appraisals, particularly when those communications are kept confidential between management and the employee. However, employers may be held liable for certain disclosures regarding performance appraisals, such as any defamatory communications. Massachusetts has laws requiring equal pay for equal work, as well as prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of membership in a protected class. These employee protections should be kept in mind when evaluating job performance. When conducting performance appraisals, Massachusetts employers should be aware that Massachusetts law prohibits retaliation against employees who engage in protected activities. Massachusetts law allows individuals to bring claims for negligent hiring or negligent retention of an employee under some circumstances. Employers should strive to conduct candid, straightforward performance reviews and avoid granting employees undeserved accolades.
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