Reinstatement Without Back Pay: Massachusetts State Employees Return to Work Post-COVID Mandate Dismissals

Massachusetts is reinstating nearly 50 of its former state workers who were previously let go due to non-compliance with Gov. Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As reported by, these former employees, however, shouldn’t anticipate being compensated for the period between their termination and reemployment.

Deadline to Accept Reemployment

A handful of former Executive Department employees, who were among around 1,000 individuals dismissed or who resigned voluntarily due to the vaccine mandate, have been given until October 31 to decide whether to retake their old jobs.

The range of positions varies, from janitors to driver’s license examiners previously associated with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The Baker administration has verified that several other state agencies are also trying to bring back their former staff.

Conditions of Return

The terms of the return offer are sparse on benefits. The administration is demonstrating a greater flexibility towards religious and medical exemption requests, which had initially resulted in numerous departures, as disclosed by Gov. Baker.

However, according to information received by MassLive, there is currently no intention from the state government to provide compensation for the duration of absence prior to reemployment.

MassDOT employees, speaking anonymously due to the sensitive nature of the information, confirmed their understanding that the reinstatement offers do not include back pay or retroactive pay.

Another employee, without definite knowledge on the topic, expressed skepticism about the administration providing back pay or other benefits to attract former MassDOT staff.

Awaiting Confirmation on the Terms

Despite several requests for comments, MassDOT spokespeople, as well as representatives from Baker’s office and multiple labor union heads representing MassDOT workers, remained unresponsive.

Similarly, Selina Johnson of MassDOT, who was identified as the point of contact for former employees with questions regarding their reinstatement offers, did not respond to MassLive’s inquiries.

The reinstatement offers, according to letters dated October 18 from MassDOT Chief Human Resources Officer Matthew Knosp, are “effective immediately” and have no conditions attached.

These letters, also endorsed by Julian Tynes, a MassDOT assistant secretary and chief diversity officer, did not elaborate on human resources-related issues such as compensation, vacation time, and promotions.

In the letters, Knosp noted that “By accepting this offer you are not required to dismiss or release any claims, lawsuits, charges or proceedings you have brought against MassDOT,” thus preserving the legal rights of the employees.

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