How Do I File A Claim?

 

a. How do I file a state claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)?

 

b. How do I contact the MCAD?

 

c. Against whom can I file a claim?

 

d. If I choose to file a claim, what is expected of me?

 

e. How long will the process take?

 

f. Do I need an attorney?

 

g. What if I can’t afford an attorney?

 

h. What will my attorney need from me?

 

i. Do I have to contact the MCAD?

 

j. Can’t I sue my employer directly without going through the MCAD?

 

k. Who will investigate my complaint?

 

l. What happens after I submit my claim?

 

m. What happens if the investigators determine that no "reasonable" or "probable" cause exists on which to base a claim?

 

n. What happens if I appeal the MCAD’s decision that there is not probable cause?

 

o. What happens if the investigator determines that "probable cause" exists on which to base a claim?

 

p. What is the difference between mediation and a hearing?

 

q. What happens if I don’t want mediation or no resolution can be reached through mediation?

 

r. Can I sue my employer?

 

s. Can I file a federal claim of employment discrimination as well? If so, how?

 

t. What are the advantages and disadvantages of filing a federal claim over a state claim?




a. How do I file a state claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)?
Contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) within 300 days of the alleged discrimination. Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has offices in Boston and Springfield.


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b. How do I contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination?
Call the MCAD at either their Boston or Springfield office:
Boston: One Ashburton Place
6th Floor, Room 601
617-994-6000
Springfield: 436 Dwight Street
2nd Floor, Room 220
413-739-2145


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c. Against whom can I file a claim?
In Massachusetts, you can sue both your employer and individuals who may have sexually harassed you or discriminated against you, including supervisors and coworkers. You can also sue your employer or supervisor, in some cases, for failing to adequately investigate or remedy complaints of harassment or discrimination.


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d. If I choose to file a claim, what is expected of me?
You are expected to initially contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) . An investigator will talk you through the entire process. After your initial conversation, an investigator will likely contact you and/or set up an "Investigative Conference" where you will sit down with the investigator and identify the issues in dispute, discuss evidence, and discuss possible settlements and trial outcomes.


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e. How long will the process take?
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) tries to complete the investigation of your complaint within 18 months of filing. After the investigation phase is complete, the time line varies depending on whether or not your employer decides to settle or proceed to a hearing at the commission.


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f. Do I need an attorney?
You do not need an attorney to pursue your claim through the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). However, if you want an attorney, you can hire one and the MCAD will work with your attorney.


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g. What if I can’t afford an attorney?
You do not need an attorney, and it does not cost any money to file with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).


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h. What will my attorney need from me?
If you choose to hire an attorney, your attorney will need the same information from you as the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD): the issues in dispute, any evidence, and what type of settlement or outcome you are seeking.


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i. Do I have to contact the MCAD?
You must always file a claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) first. Then, if you decide you would rather pursue a claim on your own, through the judicial system, you must notify the MCAD after 90 days of your original filing (or earlier if the commission agrees in writing), but no later that 3 years after your original filing. This is the general rule. However, as the MCAD proceeds with your claim, the window of time to choose a judicial hearing changes. You should always be aware of what the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is doing, so you will have every opportunity to choose how to proceed.


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j. Can’t I sue my employer directly without going through the MCAD?
You must always file a claim with the MCAD first, then you will have an opportunity to decide to withdraw and file a claim on your own. This is a personal question and you must weigh the benefits of each. However, if you decide to bring your own claim, the MCAD will dismiss your complaint. You will then be unable to bring that claim about that specific discrimination again to the MCAD.


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k. Who will investigate my complaint?
If you choose to follow through with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), they will investigate your complaint.


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l. What happens after I submit my claim?
After the response from your employer is received, the MCAD Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) investigator will investigate and decide if there is "probable cause" (probable cause means that it is more likely than not) that you have been the victim of employment discrimination.


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m. What happens if the investigators determine that no "probable cause" exists on which to base a claim?
If the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) does not find "probable cause" that you have been unlawfully discriminated against, it will dismiss your charge and give you notice of the dismissal within 10 days. If your charge has been dismissed for lack of probable cause, you can request an appeal of the decision within 10 days.


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n. What happens if I appeal the MCAD’s decision that there is not probable cause?
If you appeal, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) will hold an informal hearing where you can explain why you feel there is probable cause. The Commission may either determine that there is probable cause, make a ruling that further investigation is needed, or determine that there is no probable cause. If probable cause is found, the MCAD will continue with your claim. If the Commission still feels you do not have probable cause, your claim will be closed and will not proceed any further at the MCAD. However, you are allowed to pursue your claim in court if you believe such action is warranted. In this situation, you will need to retain your own lawyer.


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o. What happens if the investigator determines that "probable" cause exists on which to base a claim?
If the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) finds "probable cause," you have two options. At this point, the window of time to choose a judicial hearing shortens. You still may choose a judicial hearing, however, you only have 20 days to make this decision and notify the MCAD. Your other option is to continue with the MCAD and either work through a voluntary mediation process or move on to an administrative hearing


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p. What is the difference between mediation and a hearing?
Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and assisted by a mediator who acts as a neutral third party. The goal of mediation is to settle your dispute through negotiation. Both you and your employer must agree to mediation. A hearing is a form of litigation and a decision maker will determine whether a law has been violated.


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q. What happens if I don’t want mediation or no resolution can be reached through mediation?
If you do not choose mediation, or through mediation no resolution can be met, you will have an administrative/public hearing. "A public hearing is formal proceeding where you will testify under oath before one of three Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Commissioners." The Commissioner will serve as judge. You are welcome to hire an attorney. However, if you do not, a MCAD lawyer will prosecute the case on your behalf.


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r. Can I sue my employer?
Yes. When you file a claim with Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), you’ll most likely file the claim against your employer (or, in some cases, an employer who failed to hire you). In addition, you can sue individuals for "aiding and abetting" discrimination.


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s. Can I file a federal claim of employment discrimination as well? If so, how?
Yes, you can file a federal claim as well. When you contact the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), you can tell them you want your charges filed with the EEOC as well.


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t. What are the advantages and disadvantages of filing a federal claim over a state claim?
In Massachusetts, actually, you’re often better off filing a state claim (although you can certainly file both, if your employer is covered). The Massachusetts statute is broader, providing more protection for victims, and it covers more employers as well. In addition, while federal claims are subject to a set of caps on how much you can win, there are no limits in Massachusetts. Finally, Massachusetts law also allows you to sue individual co-workers or supervisors in addition to your employer.



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