The ACLU of Massachusetts fights to protect some of society’s most economically vulnerable residents, including people experiencing homelessness and low-paid workers seeking equitable working conditions and living wages.
We successfully overturned panhandling bans in Worcester and Lowell, and defended the rights of a homeless man charged with trespassing in a building hallway after being unable to access emergency shelter on a cold winter night. In 2018, we filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s failure to follow laws requiring Massachusetts to promptly place eligible homeless families in shelters and use hotels when needed to accommodate homeless families with disability-related concerns.
The ACLU of Massachusetts also challenged the criminalization of poverty and won a case requiring judges to evaluate a defendant’s financial circumstances before determining how much they must pay in restitution.
In the legislature, we work to defend the civil rights and liberties of low-income families, pushing back on harmful policies like the cruel Massachusetts “cap on kids” that penalized poor children and their families simply because a child was conceived while the family was receiving government assistance.
We also fight for economic equality so that no one has to choose between a healthy family and keeping their job. In 2017, the ACLU-backed Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was signed into law, ensuring protections for pregnant women in the workplace. With the passage of paid family and medical leave, Massachusetts became a national leader in supporting working families and took a critical step towards economic equality for women and security for all hardworking Bay Staters.