State Civil Rights Agency Upholds Trial Defense Secured by Holtz & Reed

On December 3, 2014, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination denied a plaintiff’s appeal and affirmed a hearing officer’s ruling which dismissed the plaintiff’s handicap discrimination claims against a Boston teaching hospital.

The plaintiff claimed discrimination and retaliation based on a vision problem. She alleged the hospital declined to employ her because of her impaired vision, declined to engage in an interactive dialog, and retaliated against her for complaining of discrimination. The hospital denied all of the plaintiff’s allegations. After a multi-day trial, an MCAD hearing officer ruled in favor of the hospital. Herb Holtz and Jay Sullivan represented the hospital at trial and on the appeal.

Rejecting the appeal, the MCAD’s “full commission” writes:

“The Hearing Officer’s decision that there was no retaliation rests on a credibility finding that the employees at Bulfinch were not aware of Complainant’s prior protected activity. The Hearing Officer is the best position to determine the veracity and reliability of witness testimony and to assess credibility. … Complainant argues that Bulfinch managers were in a position to know about the issues surrounding her prior separation and severance agreement and that for the Hearing Officer to find otherwise was unreasonable. She asserts that the Hearing Officer erred in crediting the testimony of MGH’s two witnesses on this issue. She offers no evidence to support this claim other than to state that the rulings were ‘suspect.’ This is an insufficient reason for us to disturb the Hearing Officer’s credibility findings. … There is no evidence to support that the Hearing Officer’s reliance on the testimony of Respondent’s witnesses was improper. Complainant’s argument that the Full Commission should overturn the Decision of the Hearing Officer because it is unsupported by substantial evidence is similarly unpersuasive. … Complainant makes general statements that the Hearing Officer’s findings are ‘troubling’ or do not make ‘sense,’ absent contrary factual support from the record or legal argument to justify these generalizations. Complainant’s appeal fundamentally is a general challenge to the Hearing Officer’s findings and conclusions with which she does not agree, yet she does not provide evidence to support the challenge.”

This is the second time this year that the MCAD has sustained a trial victory secured by Holtz & Reed. For more information on our litigation, employment, or health-care practices contact Herb Holtz or Jay Sullivan.