Mass.: MCAD Releases 2013 Report

By Diane Cadrain Dec 16, 2014

The Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD), the state agency charged with enforcing the state’s antidiscrimination laws, released an annual report detailing its activities in 2013.

Noteworthy features of that report:

Complaints received. In 2013, the MCAD received 3,224 new complaint filings, up from 3,186 in 2012.

Types of cases. In 2013, disability and race/color remained the most frequently cited categories of discrimination. Claims of sex discrimination rose slightly from 951 to 986 in 2013, but retaliation claims, which increased by 94 percent, are now the third most frequently cited category of discrimination.

Complaints under active investigation. At year’s end in 2013 the agency had 4,959 active investigations, compared to 4450 in 2012.

Investigator caseloads. In 2013, the average caseload was over 300 cases, up from 250 in 2012. The MCAD says that its employment investigators have one of the highest active caseloads in the nation.

“By comparison,” the agency stated, “the caseload of other selected state civil rights agencies (New York and Connecticut) is closer to a maximum of 75 cases per investigator. Each MCAD employment investigator is assigned approximately 180 new cases per year, or 15 per month. Notwithstanding these formidable numbers and other duties, MCAD employment investigators processed, investigated, completed, and closed an average of 9 cases each per month for a division monthly average of 144 cases.”

In a media report in the fall of 2014, Jamie Williamson, Chair of MCAD told WBZ-TV that it often takes three or even four years for a case to come to a conclusion.

“You’ll see cases where they sit for three years because we can’t get to them,” Williamson told WBZ.

The problem, William said, is a backlog of more than 1700 cases: with current staffing, the agency’s investigators can’t keep up.

To help process these claims, the agency has implemented a robust statewide volunteer/intern program with students from undergraduate, graduate, and law who perform administrative, intake, and investigative duties.

Case processing. Over the course of 2013, the MCAD resolved, investigated, adjudicated or closed 1,732 cases, compared to 2,207 in 2012.

Case completions. In 2013 the average case completion time remained consistent for the third straight year at about 18 months, down from 22 months in 2010.

Relief awarded. MCAD employment complainants received numerous awards for emotional distress in 2013, including two awards of $75,000, one in a case claiming employment bias based on race and color, the other in a case claiming retaliation. Back pay awards, of which there were nine, ranged from $6,100 to 1472,000.

Goals. The Enforcement Division will be exploring methods to increase case resolution through more efficient processes, including early intervention mediation. In 2013, the settlement rate was 77 percent.

Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years.

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