The Commission was established to enforce Mass General Law (Chapter 151B), often referred to as “The Fair Employment Practices Act.” The Commission is in the Excecutive branch of the Government and is located at 1 Ashburton Place, Boston Ma. If an employee believes that they have suffered an adverse employment action as a result of an unlawful animus, they are entitled to file a complaint with the Commission within 300 days of the date of the employment action. In order to be covered under the law, the employer has to employ 6 or more employees. Some of the more common forms of unlawful discrimination include adverse employment actions based on gender, handicap, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnic background, recovering addiction and religion. These categories are often referred to as “protected classes.” The Commission has both investigatory and adjudicatory powers. A claim must be filed in person at the Commission, although if the party is represented by an attorney, often the attorney will file the complaint through the mail. The complaint is then logged in with the Commission and assigned to an investigator. Once this has been done the complaint is then sent to the employer, who has 21 days to answer the complaint. Once this has occurred, the employee is entitled to reply to the employer’s answer. The employer’s answer is called a “Position Statement,” and the employee’s response is called the “Rebuttal.” There is often an “investigative” conference held at this point in which the parties present their respective version of the events to the investigator. Usually the investigator, at this time, informs the parties that the Commission will continue the investigation, request additional information from the parties, and potentially talk with possible witnesses.
Usually within 12mos. to 18mos., the Commission will issue a decision which will be either a Probable Cause finding or a Lack of Probable Cause. The Probable Cause finding means the case will proceed to a public hearing to determine if unlawful conduct took place. For all practical purposes a finding of a lack of probable cause means the case is over. If there has been a finding of probable cause, the Commission will order a “Conciliation Conference” at this time in order to explore the possibility of a settlement. If the settlement conference is unsuccessful, the case will proceed to the public hearing. The hearing is usually scheduled about a year from the date of the settlement conference. At the public hearing, if the employee is successful, then he or she may be entitled to back pay damages, emotional distress damages, and attorney’s fees. There are instances where additional damages are awarded but the 3 mentioned are the most common. “Interest” is also usually ordered on the award, and is at the rate of 12% although the rate may vary according to the statue.The above is a brief overview of the MCAD process. If you believe that you have a possible discrimination case, it is a good idea to have an attorney review the case and evaluate the merits of the case. If you are an Employer, and have been named in a MCAD complaint, it is highly recommended that, prior to sending in an answer to the complaint, you contact an employment attorney to advise you. Remember that the only person who has legal rights is the person who knows what their legal rights are.
Law Office of Stark & Heiner
805 Turnpike St. Suite 101
North Andover, MA 01845