Employee’s Discrimination and Retaliation Claims Dismissed

Attorney Courtney Mayo successfully obtained a finding of “no probable cause” in a discrimination action brought by a Town employee.

The Complainant, a full-time social service coordinator for a municipal agency, filed an action against her employer after being laid off in early 2014. The Claimant alleged that she was laid off due to her advanced age (63) and her gender. In addition, the claimant alleged the layoff was retaliatory in nature following a previous MCAD complaint.

The Complainant had previously applied for but did not receive the position of Agency Director. The Complainant’s dissatisfaction with the Town’s choice for Director was no secret and her animus toward the new Director became apparent through her behavior and comments she subsequently made to others. Shortly after the new Director began at the agency, the Director issued a written warning to the Complainant for openly playing a game on her cell phone during an agency presentation. The Complainant argued that other employees similarly used their cell phones, but that no other employees were written up for doing so. Shortly thereafter, the Board of Selectmen for the Town voted to cut the budget for all Town departments by 5%. As a result, the agency decided to eliminate the Complainant’s position in early 2014. Following the layoff, the Complainant then noticed a posting for a part-time position which she deemed to be similar to her prior position. She applied for this part-time position but was not hired. She argued that the Town’s failure to hire her for this part-time position constituted discrimination.

Attorney Mayo argued that the Town’s decision to lay off the Complaint was not retaliatory and was merely a budgetary decision as the Complainant was the only full-time employee at the time whose salary was 100% funded by the Town. Attorney Mayo further argued that Town’s decision not to offer the Complainant the part-time position following her layoff in no way constituted discrimination and was the result of the Complainant’s own behavior. After being laid off, the Complainant presented herself at the agency premises while the Director was out of the office and told other employees that she was there to pick up some personal items. However, the Complainant then proceeded to log onto her former computer and download sensitive information. The Respondent called police and a criminal report was filed. Attorney Mayo argued that the Complainant’s illegal and inappropriate behavior was part of the reason she was not considered for the available part-time position. Further, the part-time position was funded by a grant that had been issued prior to the Complainant’s layoff and was not created after the Complainant’s layoff contrary to her belief. Moreover, the part-time position called for someone with a college degree, something the Complainant did not possess.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination heard arguments and reviewed extensive documentation provided by both parties before issuing a finding of “no probable cause” as to the Complainant’s claims against the Town.

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