MCAD: No Probable Cause in Pair of Complaints About Mask Mandates

Attorney Matthew Lindberg secured dismissal of two independent complaints filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination by the same individual, arising out of mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In one case, the complainant maintained that the respondent public library’s policy, which required mask use in the building, was discriminatory.  The patron alleged discrimination on the basis of disability, relying on a doctor’s note to support his claim that he could not wear a mask due to anxiety and claustrophobia.  On behalf of the town, Attorney Lindberg denied any discrimination, noting that comprehensive curbside services were available to patrons.  Through investigation, Attorney Lindberg learned that the complainant had in the past made use of the curbside services and highlighted this in the respondent’s position statement.

In another case, the complainant alleged discrimination by a coffee shop, due to its mask requirement, insisting that he be served inside the establishment.  Again, the customer argued discrimination on the basis of disability based on the same doctor’s note.  On behalf of the town’s Board of Health, Attorney Lindberg argued that the complaint should be dismissed as there was no discrimination.  The complainant could have used the drive through to make his purchase.  Moreover, the Board of Health did not have jurisdiction over mask policies instituted by private businesses.

The MCAD dismissed both cases, finding insufficient evidence to support a determination of probable cause in either one.

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