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Apr 2016

April 2016 Jack Coakley secured the dismissal of a hostile work environment claim filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination by an employee of a central Massachusetts human services agency.  The Complainant alleged that a series of events and comments occurring in the workplace created a racially hostile work environment.  The final allegedly hostile act was a written warning received by the Complainant employee after she yelled and pointed a pencil at a co-worker when asked to sign a birthday card.  Jack Coakley presented evidence that established that, with the exception of the written warning, all of the conduct that allegedly contributed to the hostile environment was committed by non-supervisory employees and the Complainant did not report her concerns prior to receiving the written warning.  Additionally, it was shown that all of the alleged comments were not merely ambiguous, but, in fact, objectively devoid of any racist interpretation.  None of such comments or acts were even directed at the Complainant.  With respect to the written warning, Jack Coakley argued that the warning was a reasonable and measured response by the agency to the violation of an uniformly applied workplace rule.  After the warning furthermore, the Complainant continued to work for the agency without incident.  She did not assert any further complaints about her work environment during the pendency of the MCAD case.  After thoroughly investigating the allegations, the MCAD made a lack of probable cause finding with respect to the Complainant’s claim of a racially hostile work environment and the case was dismissed.

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