Guide to the MCAD Complaint Process

This Guide explains what happens when a Complaint of discrimination is filed at the Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

If you were treated differently or unfairly based on your identity as a member of a protected class, you may file a Complaint of Discrimination at the MCAD.

1. File a Complaint

Once a Complaint is received and the MCAD determines that it can be accepted, the Commission will launch a formal investigation, which is the initial step of the Complaint Process.

2. Respondents file a Position Statement

The Complaint is mailed to the named "Respondent(s)" who then have an opportunity to reply to the statements in your Complaint by submitting a "Position Statement" in writing. You will receive a copy of the Respondent's Position statement and will have an opportunity to submit a written rebuttal.

3. MCAD Investigates

Then, the MCAD Investigator on the case will continue to gather information by interviewing witnesses, obtaining relevant documents, site visits, and additional methods as necessary.

Investigative Conference

Sometimes, the Investigator will hold an in-person meeting with the Complainant and the Respondent(s) at one of our offices to ask questions and gather additional information surrounding the statements in the Complaint and Position Statement.

4. MCAD Makes a Determination

The investigation ends when the Investigating Commissioner makes a determination, which is sent to the Complainant in writing called the "Investigative Disposition." The Investigative Disposition explains the legal reasoning whether there is enough evidence to support a conclusion that it is more likely than not that unlawful discrimination.

Probable Cause

A "Probable Cause" determination (PC) means that the MCAD has found sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that unlawful discrimination may have occurred.

If Probable Cause is found, the MCAD conducts a Conciliation in efforts to resolve the matter swiftly and amicably. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute during conciliation, the case proceeds to Public Hearing.

Lack of Probable Cause

A "Lack of Probable Cause" determination (LOPC) means that the MCAD did not find sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that unlawful discrimination occurred. A Complainant has a right to appeal an LOPC determination within 10 days of receiving the determination.

Appealing Your Determination

Appealing an LOPC Determination

The Complainant has a right to appeal a LOPC determination within 10 days of receiving the determination.

The Investigating Commissioner, or their designee, will hold an informal meeting called a "Preliminary Hearing" where the Complainant has an opportunity to explain why they believe the determination was incorrect.

Based on the results of the Preliminary hearing, the Investigating Commissioner may send the case back for further investigation, reverse the finding by issuing a PC determination, or uphold the determination.

If the determination is upheld, the case is closed and goes no further at the MCAD.

Appealing A PC Determination

To appeal a PC determination, the Respondent should file a "Motion for Reconsideration of the Probable Cause" with the clerk's office and the Office of the General Counsel. Typically, the Respondent may move for reconsideration of the Probable Cause finding at any time before the case is certified to Public Hearing.


Additional Resources

5. Public Hearing

A Public Hearing is a formal proceeding where witnesses testify under oath before an MCAD Commissioner or their designee. The Commissioner serves as the judge and reviews testimony and documents submitted at the Hearing. Complainants and Respondents can hire an attorney to represent them at the Hearing.

When the Complainant does not have an attorney, an MCAD lawyer (called "Commission Counsel") will prosecute the case on behalf of the Commission. However, MCAD Commission Counsel does not represent the Complainant in the case. The MCAD Commission Counsel represents the interest of the Commonwealth in an action against the Respondent for allegedly violating the Commonwealth's Anti-discrimination laws.

Additional Resources

Contact   for Guide to the MCAD Complaint Process


Fax (617) 994-6024


Main Address
1 Ashburton Place, Suite 601, Boston, MA 02108

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