MCAD Issues Lack of Probable Cause Finding in Conkey v. Dover Sherborn Public Schools (MCAD Docket No. 13BEM02943)

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On September 30, 2016, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued a Lack of Probable Cause Finding against a former Technology Director of the Dover-Sherborn Regional School District who claimed the District discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and association with disabled parents.

In defending the District, PDP argued that the Superintendent’s decision, in the fall of 2013, to demote the complainant to computer technician, without reducing her salary or benefits, was based solely on the technology needs of the District and the complainant’s inability, through her poor job performance, to adequately meet or address those needs. The Commission agreed with the District and rejected the complainant’s claims.

In 2013, the SJC ruled that Chapter 151B not only bars an employer from discriminating against an employee because of his handicap, but also from discriminating against an employee “based on the handicap of a person with whom the employee associates.” Flagg v. AliMed, Inc., 466 Mass. 23, 37 (2013).  In short, “associational discrimination based on handicap is prohibited under § 4(16).”  Id.  In Conkey, the Commission concluded that the complainant proffered insufficient evidence to show that her gender or need to take time off to care for her disabled parents were the real reasons for her demotion. This was simply not a case of gender or associational discrimination.

Published in PDP’s Developments in Municipal Law Fall 2016 Newsletter.