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Employment - Hostile work environment - Constructive discharge.

Byline: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

Where a hearing officer found a respondent employer liable for discriminating against a complainant by subjecting her to a hostile work environment and failing to remedy her complainants of sexual harassment by a co-worker, which resulted in her constructive discharge, the complaint was timely filed based on the continuing violation doctrine.


"Respondent first argues that Complainant failed to file her complaint within three hundred days of an incident of discrimination. Respondent specifically argues that the continuing violation doctrine does not apply because there was no anchoring incident of sexual conduct at the workplace within three hundred days of the Complainant's filing of the complaint. Respondent asserts that allowing the co-worker responsible for sexually harassing the Complainant to return to work after a six-month suspension did not result in continued sexual harassment in the workplace. We agree with the Hearing Officer's determination that the complaint was timely filed based on the continuing violation doctrine.

" Respondent's re-hiring of [Dmitri] Vlasenko cannot be viewed in isolation, as it is substantially related to the prior incidents of sexual harassment alleged by Complainant. Further, given the specific fact that the Respondent assured Complainant that Vlasenko would not be rehired, Respondent's failure to follow through with its purported remedial measure is sufficient to serve as the anchoring event for Complainant's sexual harassment claim. The Respondent's actions and inaction in relation to Complainant's reports of sexual harassment, together with Vlasenko's sexual conduct, created a hostile work environment. Respondent continued to minimize Vlasenko's conduct and failed to adequately remedy the hostile work environment. The Hearing Officer did not err in concluding that Vlasenko's re-hire constituted the anchoring event that rendered the complaint timely.

"In order to prove constructive discharge, Complainant must show that her employment was, in effect, terminated because the situation at her workplace became so intolerable that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign. ... The Hearing Officer found that Complainant testified credibly that she was shocked, appalled, and upset by Vlasenko's conduct and that she had difficulty performing her job, broke into tears, and had to vary her route at work in order to avoid contact with Vlasenko as she was fearful of him. After reporting Vlasenko's sexual harassment to Respondent, Respondent suspended Vlasenko from his employment and told Complainant that Vlasenko would not be re-hired. This proved to be false. When Complainant arrived at work to discover that Vlasenko had been re-hired, she confronted Respondent and was told once again to ignore Vlasenko's behavior. Complainant had no assurance that the workplace would be free from sexual harassment, as Respondent failed to adequately remedy her complaints of sexual harassment. We determine that there is sufficient evidence to support the Hearing Officer's determination that Complainant's working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign."

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, et al. v. Cuca, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 22-005-19) (12 pages) (Docket No. 08-SEM-00558) (Feb. 15, 2019).

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Title Annotation:Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination v. Cuca, Inc.
Publication:Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
Date:Mar 18, 2019
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