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Annual Report 2001 Decisions

DECISIONS OF A SINGLE COMMISSIONER

MCAD and Berardi v. Medical Weight Loss Center, Inc.
Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Retaliation and Individual Liability

Complainant, a female and a lesbian exercise physiologist, alleged that a male owner and sole shareholder subjected her to sustained harassment over her sexual orientation, her physical appearance, and the physical appearance of other women, and that Respondent unlawfully retaliated against her for complaining about the harassment. Complainant complained to Respondent concerning his discriminatory remarks about her sex and/or sexual orientation which ultimately led to her termination. Hearing Officer Kenneth B. Grooms found that Respondent's sexually demeaning conduct and repeated making unwelcome and lewd comments created a hostile work environment. Respondent was ordered to pay Complainant $50,000 in emotional distress damages, $45, 581 in lost wages and $350 in medical expenses.

Graves v. Haartz-Mason, Inc.
Discrimination on the Basis of Race

Complainant, an African-American fireman/engineer, alleged that he was terminated because of his race. Hearing Officer Eugenia M. Guastaferri found that Complainant failed to show a prima facie case of racial discrimination or disparate disciplinary treatment. Complainant failed to show that he adequately performed his job duties as a third-shift fireman. Hearing Officer Eugenia M. Guastaferri found Respondent asserted a legitimate non-discriminatory reason, dissatisfaction with Complainant's performance and Complainant's receipt of 10 warnings from the time he was hired to the time he was terminated, and Complainant had not demonstrated pretext. The complaint was dismissed.

Figueroa v. Springfield Transit Management
Discrimination on the Basis of Handicap (Reasonable Accommodation)

Complainant, a bus driver, alleged that Respondent failed to accommodate her handicap (asthma) and then terminated her because of her excessive absenteeism. Complainant also alleged that Respondent discriminated against her on the basis of her sex and national origin but those complaints were dismissed. Hearing Officer Dorca J. Gomez found that Complainant was capable of performing the essential functions of her job as a bus driver with a reasonable accommodation. Respondent made no effort whatsoever to accommodate Complainant's sensitivity to cigarette smoke by either allowing her to avoid the public areas in which cigarette smoke was ever present or restricting the ability of other employees to smoke in these areas. The lack of Respondent's effort to accommodate Complainant resulted in Complainant's extensive absences from work. The Complainant provided to Respondent her doctor's notes specifically stating that the cigarette smoke at work was aggravating her asthma and stating the reasons for her absenteeism. Respondent, however, made no attempt to discuss these matters with Complainant or to offer Complainant any suggestions. Respondent thereafter reprimanded Complainant and then terminated her for excessive absenteeism. Respondent was ordered to pay Complainant $20,000 in emotional damages and $17,847 in lost wages.

Tan v. Stonehill College
Discrimination on the Basis of Race and Color

Complainant, the only non-Caucasian (Chinese by birth) tenured full professor of mathematics, alleged that Respondent subjected him to disparate treatment in compensation and that he had been disparately treated in the terms, conditions, and privileges of his employment. Complainant alleged that he was compensated unfairly with his Caucasian comparators and with those "under" him. Complainant's expert witness stated the fact that an assistant professor was paid more than Complainant who was a full professor as "the only situation [I've] ever seen like that in my life. It's completely unheard of." During Complainant's eighth year as a full professor, he was paid less than three associate professors. Hearing Officer Betty E. Waxman found that Complainant timely filed his complaint. Hearing Officer Waxman found that Complainant first learned that he was paid less than lower-ranked professors in March 1995 and timely filed his complaint with the MCAD on April 27, 1995, within the six-month statute of limitations. The Hearing Officer found that Complainant established a prima facie case of discrimination in terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis that Respondent disparately treated Complainant from his non-Caucasian colleagues with respect to the financial privileges of seniority, experience and rank. Hearing Officer Waxman found that Complainant was subject to employment discrimination based upon Stonehill College President's memorandum in which he stated that racial stereotyping exists on campus. Respondent was ordered to pay back pay damages in accordance with his rank and within the parameters set out by the Hearing Officer. In addition, Respondent was ordered to pay Complainant $150,000 in emotional damages.

Pires v. Falmouth Police Department
Discrimination on the Basis of Race, Color, National Origin and Retaliation

Complainant, a Cape Verdean Falmouth police officer, alleged that Respondent discriminated against him on the basis of his race, color and national origin (Cape Verdean) because Respondent put Complainant under surveillance and conducted an investigation for suspected alcoholism (suspending him for three days) and neglect of duty; counseled Complainant to undergo counseling; and refused to select him for a motorcycle position. Complainant also alleged that the Falmouth Police Department retaliated against him for Complainant's participation in protected EEO activity. Hearing Officer Kenneth B. Grooms found that Complainant failed to establish a prima facie case in that Complainant was not treated differently from other similarly situated white officers. Hearing Officer Kenneth B. Grooms found that Respondent articulated legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions. The Complainant failed to establish a prima face case of retaliation. Hearing Officer Kenneth Grooms dismissed the retaliation claim because there was no sufficient evidence that the Police Chief knew of Complainant's protected activity prior to his actions against Complainant. The complaint was dismissed.