MCAD Complaints

Guiding You Through the MCAD Complaint Process

If you have experienced employment or education discrimination in Massachusetts and want to litigate the case, the first step is to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the government civil rights agency tasked with eliminating discrimination in the Commonwealth. As dedicated and experienced employment lawyers, we can assist you.

Types of Employment or Education Cases Filed at the MCAD

The MCAD has jurisdiction over the following employment or education claims brought under various Massachusetts laws:

  • Employment Discrimination: Employers with six or more employees are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, ancestry, age, or active military status. The law also requires employers to provide religious accommodations for employees, prohibits retaliation against employees who complain of discrimination in the workplace, and prohibits sexual harassment.
  • Parental Leave: The MCAD enforces Massachusetts laws granting employees in places of business with six or more employees eight (8) weeks of unpaid parental leave.
  • Education: The law prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, blindness, deafness, or criminal record. The law also prohibits sexual harassment in education and requires religious accommodation.
How to File a Complaint With the MCAD

The process for bringing a lawsuit claiming discrimination under one of the above laws is:

  1. You must file a complaint with the MCAD within 300 days of the discriminatory action. This is a short window, so it is important that you act quickly if you believe you have been subject to discrimination. In the complaint, you must allege all of the acts of discrimination that you believe have occurred; failure to include acts of discrimination will bar you from later filing a lawsuit or complaint about those acts. Our attorneys can help you draft the complaint to make the strongest case in your favor.
  2. The filed complaint will be sent to the respondent – the person or entity you allege discriminated against you. The MCAD will then conduct an investigation into the alleged discrimination. The respondent will submit a statement, and a meeting will be held at the MCAD to determine if the parties can voluntarily resolve the issue. If they cannot, the MCAD investigator will continue the investigation by interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.
  3. At the end of the investigation the investigator will determine either that there is probable cause to believe there was discrimination, or that there is lack of probable cause. If the investigator determines there is a lack of probable cause, the complainant can appeal that decision; if it is upheld, the case is closed at the MCAD.
  4. If the MCAD determines there is probable cause, the case moves on to a public hearing. At that hearing, either your own lawyer, if you have one, or the MCAD’s lawyer, if you do not, represents you and the MCAD.
  5. If the MCAD Commissioner finds for the Respondent, the case is concluded at the MCAD. If the MCAD finds for the complainant, it can award damages, including attorney’s fees.
Can You Sue in Court?

If you believe you have a claim under one of the laws listed above, you are required to first take your complaint to the MCAD before you can bring a lawsuit. 90 days after you have filed your complaint with the MCAD, you are permitted to withdraw it and file the case in court, if you prefer. We can help you think through the benefits and drawbacks of litigating your case at the MCAD, in state court, and in federal court.

Here to Guide You

If you have a complaint to file with the MCAD, please call us at 617-742-6020 or complete our contact form.

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