Administrative Decisions

The following are cases in which Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. successfully obtained a ruling from administrative agencies such as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) dismissing the cases with a determination of “no probable cause.”

Jackson v. Employer, CHRO Docket Nos. 1540049 and 1540331; EEOC Docket Nos. 16A201401617 and 16A201500977 (decision March 23, 2016)

A Program Aide who was responsible for direct care of disabled residents in a group home filed multiple Complaints with the CHRO alleging that he was discriminated on the basis of his race and retaliated against for filing past complaints. The CHRO dismissed all of the Complaints, finding there was no reasonable cause for believing the Employer engaged in discriminatory or retaliatory practices. The Employer was able to show comparative documentation demonstrating other employees not of the Program Aide’s race were similarly treated. The Employer was also able to support its legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for disciplining the Program Aide for neglecting a resident and not selecting the employee for overtime on the basis of a bona fide seniority system.

DeLeon v. Employer, MCAD Docket No. 13-SEM-03336; EEOC Docket No. 16C-2012-00500 (decision August 15, 2014)

A Practice Assistant alleged that a co-worker, who, like the employee is Hispanic and Puerto Rican, subjected her to harassment and that she was forced to resign because the harassment did not stop even after she complained about it. The MCAD issued a lack of probable cause determination because the co-worker had made only two comments related to race and/or national origin. Specifically, she claimed that the co-worker had commented on the use of the word “red” when “read” was appropriate and that the co-worker had joked that she needed two people to help her open a box because she (the co-worker) is Puerto Rican. While the employee also complained that the co-worker treated her like a child when addressing a patient issue, the MCAD concluded that the co-worker’s behavior on that occasion was not related to membership in a protected class but rather was the product of a miscommunication between two employees. The MCAD also concluded that the employee’s workplace had not become so intolerable that a reasonable person would have no option but to resign; therefore, it dismissed her retaliation claim.

Cathy Baldwin v. Rocky’s Ace Hardware, MCAD Docket No. 11SEM00506; EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-00989 (decision July 25, 2014)

An Assistant Store Manager, Cathy Baldwin, was terminated from her employment as a result of violation of company policies and procedures. Baldwin claimed that a new, younger, Store Manager subjected her to constant harassment and discrimination based on her age, disability (neck and shoulder injury) and retaliated against her for requesting a reasonable accommodation of her disability. Among other things, Baldwin claimed that the Store Manager issued her unwarranted and frequent disciplinary notices and referred to older employees as “set in their ways.” The MCAD issued a lack of probable cause finding on Baldwin’s age-based claim after Rocky’s demonstrated that an employee in his twenties was terminated for the same offense; the company’s handbook listed the activity at-issue as one that would result in termination; and referring to employees as “set in their ways” was a reference to long-term employees, not older employees. The MCAD also found it significant that Rocky’s had replaced Baldwin with an employee within the protected age classification. The MCAD also concluded that Rocky’s had in fact granted Baldwin’s request for light duty and limited hours to accommodate a work-related injury by transferring her to a store closer to her home that could accommodate those restrictions.

Naylor v. Employer, MCAD Docket No. 13-SEM-01032; EEOC Docket No. 16C-2013-01443 (decision October 10, 2013)

A Constant Companion, Isaac Naylor, was terminated from his employment as a result of violating the Employer’s attendance and tardiness policies and procedures. Naylor claimed that he was terminated due to his race/color (black) and due to a disability (a broken arm). The Employer denied the allegations and presented compelling evidence that Naylor had violated the rules and policies regarding attendance and tardiness on numerous occasions. The MCAD issued a lack of probable cause finding on all of Naylor’s claims after the Employer demonstrated that it adhered to its policies with regard to disciplining Naylor and also demonstrated that a Hispanic female was terminated for the same offense.

Dominic Liantonio v. Medical Office, MCAD Docket No. 13-SPA-00188 (decision August 30, 2013)

Dominic Liantonio was discharged from Medical Office after making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to a nurse and touching her ankle. Liantonio claimed that he was discharged from Medical Office as a patient because of his gender. The MCAD issued a lack of probable cause investigation finding on Liantonio’s gender discrimination claim after Medical Office submitted documentary evidence showing that the nurse had complained that Liantonio subjected her to unwelcome sexual comments and that Medical Office acted in good faith based on those complaints when it discharged Liantonio from Medical Office.

Marcelina Powell v. Goddard House, MCAD Docket No: 11BEM02058, EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-02139 (decision on appeal of Lack of Probable Cause Finding, November 8, 2012)

A personal care assistant filed a Charge of Discrimination, alleging that she was unlawfully disciplined on the basis of her national origin and race (Panamanian, Hispanic). In support of her position the Complainant alleged that Goddard House favored Haitian employees by ignoring complainants of non-Haitian employees while resolving complaints of Haitian employees.  Complainant further alleged that her supervisors often commented on her national origin, creating a hostile work environment.  The employer’s position was that the Complainant was disciplined for violating company policies. On July 18, 2012, the MCAD concluded that the Complainant failed to show that there was sufficient evidence to establish that the employer’s stated reason for her discipline was a pretext for illegal discrimination.  Thereafter, the Complainant appealed the decision.  On appeal, the Investigating Commissioner affirmed the MCAD’s lack of probable cause finding, meaning that the investigation and appeal evidence failed to establish sufficient evidence to determine that an unlawful act of discrimination had been committed.

Ayesha Dobbins v. Center for Extended Care, MCAD Docket No. 09-SEM-0156; EEOC Docket No. 16C-2009-01773 (decision August 8, 2012)

Ayesha Dobbins, a Certified Nursing Assistant, was terminated from employment from the Center for Extended Care at Amherst when she refused to work as scheduled and refused to leave the Alzheimer’s/dementia Unit of her employer until her employer was forced to a call the police.  Nonetheless, Ms. Dobbins filed a charge of discrimination against her former employer alleging that she was terminated because of her race, alleged disability (high risk pregnancy and uterine cyst) and as an act of retaliation.  The MCAD concluded that the Center had not engaged in any wrongdoing.  The MCAD noted that the employer had accommodated the employee’s need for time off and her work-restrictions, and it also noted that it was the employee who violated her work restrictions against instructions.  Additionally, the employee had received warnings for failing to report to work as scheduled, tardiness, acting in an appropriate matter toward a staff member, and refusing to perform duties within her light-restrictions.  The final incident, i.e. the employee’s disruption in the workplace which resulted in both the need to call the police and her termination, was substantiated by witnesses.  Therefore, the MCAD held that there was insufficient evidence that the employee had been subjected to harassment, retaliation and disparate treatment based on her membership in protected classifications.

Nancy G. v. Clinical & Support Options, Inc., (EEOC decision June 11, 2012)

The EEOC dismissed this Charge of Discrimination alleging age and disability discrimination and retaliation, following an investigation.  The Employer denied the allegations and presented compelling evidence that the employee had violated rules and policies governing client confidentiality and that she resigned due to a long-standing plan to re-locate rather than any discriminatory employer acts.

Jose Irizarry v. Garden Park Mgt., MCAD Docket No. 11SEM01022, EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-01387 (decision March 27, 2012)

In this case, a maintenance person filed a Charge of Discrimination, alleging that he had been harassed because he is Hispanic.  In support of his position, the Complainant alleged that he had been unjustly disciplined for approximately one year after a new management team took over.  Further, the Complainant alleged that the harassment was so severe that he was forced to resign.  The employer’s position was that the discipline issued to the Complainant was justified.  The employer demonstrated that the Complainant left supplies, trash and even appliances behind when emptying vacated units although he marked job orders complete and stated he had removed the items.  The MCAD noted in its decision that the Respondent had submitted evidence supporting its reasons for taking the disciplinary actions and produced written disciplinary actions, which Complainant had signed.  The Commission concluded that Complainant was disciplined for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons and that his allegations were not sufficiently severe or pervasive to support a hostile work environment claims.

Janice Tavares v.  Radius Healthcare Center at Plymouth, MCAD Docket No: 11BEM01545, EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-01772 (decision February 16, 2012)

A licensed practical nurse filed a Charge of Discrimination, alleging that she was unlawfully terminated on the basis of her race, color and national origin (Cape Verdean).   In support of her position the Complainant alleged that she heard members of the employer’s workforce refer to employees who were not White or whose origin was not the United States as “them people” or “you people.”   The employer’s position was that the Complainant was terminated for violating company policies.  The MCAD concluded that the Complainant failed to establish a sufficient nexus between the alleged comments, her protected classes and her termination, and therefore failed to demonstrate discriminatory animus.  She also failed to establish any pretext regarding the employer’s reasons for terminating her.

Joana Savini v. Radius Healthcare, MCAD Docket No: 11BEM01548, EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-01774 (decision February 16, 2012)

In this case, a licensed practical nurse filed a Charge of Discrimination, alleging that she was unlawfully terminated on the basis of her race, color and national origin (Cape Verdean).   In support of her position, the Complainant asserted that the employer’s management had discriminatory animus towards employees who were not White or whose origin was not the United States.  As evidence of this animus, the Complainant alleged that a co-worker made a racial slur that offended her, and the Complainant only received a verbal apology.  The employer’s position was that the Complainant was terminated for violating company policies.  The MCAD concluded that the Complainant failed to establish that she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her protected class.  She also failed to establish any pretext regarding the employer’s reasons for termination.

Christine M. Spezanno v. United Bank, MCAD Docket No. 11BEM01807, EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-1968; MCAD Docket No. 11WEM01854, EEOC Docket No. 16C-2011-02004 (decisions January 31, 2012 & February 10, 2012)

A teller filed two Charges of Discrimination against her former employer.  In her first Charge, Complainant alleged that she had been discriminated against in the form of issuing her a negative evaluation because of her disabilities, which she claimed were a weak bladder, insomnia and back problems.  In her second Charge, filed three days later, Complainant alleged that she was forced to resign from her position because disability-based harassment became so severe and pervasive that she could no longer work for Respondent   She claimed that the harassment was the Respondent sending her FMLA paperwork after she had notified Respondent that she was to go on bed rest.  The Respondent’s position was that Complainant was actually given a fair evaluation that noted both strengths and weaknesses, and the review was similar to a previous review given before Respondent learned of her medical conditions.  Additionally, Respondent’s position was that it sent her FMLA paperwork as a matter of standard procedure to comply with FMLA requirements.  The Commission noted that Complainant had failed to present evidence that her supervisors spoke to her about certain problematic behavior because of her disabilities. It also noted that sending FMLA paperwork to Complainant was insufficiently egregious to have forced her to resign.  The MCAD dismissed both Charges for lack of probable cause.