No Probable Cause Found in Age Discrimination Case

Attorney Courtney Mayo obtained a finding of no probable cause from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in a claim for age discrimination and retaliation brought by a teacher against a public school.

The Complainant had been working as a special education instructor for ten years prior to being transferred to teach a regular fourth grade class in 2009.   Shortly before her transfer, the claimant claimed that she strongly advocated for a Hispanic student to receive dual services to assist with his educational development.  The Complainant claimed she confronted school principal and a reading specialist when the request for dual services was denied.  In addition to alleging age discrimination, the complainant alleges that her transfer to teach a fourth grade class and increased scrutiny following same constituted retaliation for advocating for the student.

The complainant alleged that immediately following her transfer she was placed on a corrective action plan for poor performance.  Shortly thereafter, the complainant requested and was granted a medical leave of absence.  While on medical leave, the complainant received a notice of termination from the public school for failure to comply with the corrective action plan.  Through her union, the complainant requested an arbitration to challenge the school’s termination of her employment.  The arbitrator determined that the school’s decision to terminate the complainant was based upon her inability to meet benchmark standards.  Shortly after the arbitrator’s decision, the complainant filed a Complaint in MCAD alleging age discrimination and retaliation against the school.

Attorney Mayo filed a Motion to Dismiss on behalf of the respondent school, arguing that the school had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons to terminate the complainant’s employment.  Those reasons included complainant’s failure to report for the first day of school, failure to turn in lesson plans, failure to provide required grade input for teachers, and demonstration of poor planning and teaching skills.  Attorney Mayo highlighted the school’s attempts over several years to improve the complainant’s teaching practice.  Moreover, Attorney Mayo argued that at no time during the 5-day arbitration did the complainant ever allege age discrimination or retaliation.  Lastly, Attorney Mayo argued that the Complainant’s MCAD Complaint was untimely it was filed more than 300 days from the alleged date of discrimination.

The MCAD investigating commission determined that even if the complainant had filed a timely complaint, the evidence reflected that the complainant was terminated for legitimate reasons not constituting discrimination nor retaliation. The investigator found a lack of probable cause and the action against the school was dismissed.