If You Have Been the Victim of Sexual Harassment or Sexual Abuse in Massachusetts, Choose a Boston Law Firm with the Knowledge and Experience you Need. Choose Parker Scheer LLP.
Sexually abusive behavior may give rise to liability on the part of the offending party as well as by those who foster or permit such conduct to occur. Sexual assault is a crime in Massachusetts and may also result in severe civil penalties.
Sexual assault is any sexual act in which the victim is subjected to unwanted touching, fondling, kissing, groping, and rape.
Sexual harassment which, in contrast to sexual assault, may occur even where no unwanted touching or other physical contact occurs, can be extremely traumatic for the victim and is often more difficult to define. Generally, sexual harassment involves offensive and inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, directed to a person or group of persons. Examples of actionable sexual harassment include repeated and unwanted sexual advances, sexually charged language or expression, posting or transmitting written or graphic images that describe or depict sexual acts.
The Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD) located in Boston, Massachusetts provides a legal forum for those who suffer sexual assault or harassment both in the workplace and in other contexts. Parker Scheer has represented victims of sexual assault and harassment before the MCAD as well as in the Massachusetts trial courts. Under Massachusetts law, the deadline for filing a complaint with the MCAD is far shorter than that of other claims and must be filed no more than 300 days from the date the last offensive conduct took place. It is therefore essential to contact a lawyer experienced in this area of the law as soon as possible after the offending conduct occurs, in order to best ensure that the matter is filed with the MCAD. within the required time period.
The following are a sample of frequently asked questions about sexual assault and harassment, as posted on the official website of the MCAD.:
How do I know if my employer is covered by state discrimination laws?
How do I know if I should file a complaint?
How do I file a complaint?
Can I file a complaint over the phone?
Do you accept complaints by mail?
Can I file a complaint if I am not a U.S. citizen?
How much time do I have to file a complaint?
How much will it cost to file a complaint?
What happens after I file my complaint?
After I file my complaint, when will I hear from the Commission?
I attended my investigative conference. When will I hear from the Commission about whether probable cause is found on my case?
Can I get in trouble or get fired for filing a complaint?
How much money am I entitled to if I win?
1. How do I know if my employer is covered by state discrimination laws?
If you are a part- or full-time employee at a workplace that employs at least six, part or full-time employees, then your employer is covered. If you have questions about this, you can raise them when you come to file a complaint.
2. How do I know if I should file a sexual assault or sexual harassment complaint?
If you believe you have experienced discrimination within the last six months, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is available to assist you. If you visit one of our offices and meet with an intake worker, he or she will explain to you what kind of evidence you will need to prove that discrimination occurred.
3. How do I file a complaint?
You can drop into the Boston or Springfield office to file a complaint. An appointment is not necessary.For information about each office’s hours and directions to each office, please see the Hours and Directions page.
4. Can I file a complaint over the phone?
The MCAD will generally not file a complaint by phone. Unless you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a lawyer representing you, you must visit our Boston or Springfield office to file a complaint with a member of our intake staff.
5. Do you accept complaints by mail?
The MCAD will generally not accept complaints by mail. We have found that an in-person meeting with an intake worker produces the most thorough information gathering. However, if you are represented by an attorney, he or she can mail in a complaint accompanied by a self-stamped envelope.
6. Can I file a sexual assault or harassment complaint if I am not a U.S. citizen?
Your rights are not affected by your immigration status. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination will not question your citizenship or request a copy of your documentation.
7. How much time do I have to file a complaint?
If you are filing a complaint about employment discrimination, you have 300 days from the date of the most recent incident of discrimination you believe you experienced. For example, Alicia is being harassed on the job because she is an immigrant from Cuba. On February 1, her locker was spray
painted with a slur about Cubans. On March 1, her supervisor made insulting remarks about Cubans. The last incident happened on April 1, when Alicia’s coworker told an offensive joke that mocked individuals with accents. Alicia has 300 days from April 1 to file a complaint. Alicia must come to the MCAD to file her complaint by February 1 of the following year. If you are filing a complaint about housing discrimination, you have one year from the date of the most recent incident of discrimination you believe you experienced.
8. How much will it cost to file a sexual assault or harassment complaint?
There is no fee to file a complaint. You may decide to seek a lawyer to represent you in the process. If so, the lawyer will discuss with you what his or her fee will be. However, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination never collects a fee from someone who files a complaint.
9. What happens after I file my complaint?
Once your complaint is filed, your case will be assigned to an investigator. The investigator will contact you for more information about the case. The investigator may contact you to set up an “Investigative Conference” with the parties to learn more about the case, identify the issues in dispute, discuss possible available evidence, and explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
10. After I file my complaint, when will I hear from the Commission?
When you file a complaint at the Commission, your intake worker will give you a date for an investigative conference. You will be expected to attend the conference to explain your allegations.
11. I attended my investigative conference. When will I hear from the Commission about whether probable cause is found on my case?
The Commission expects to complete each case investigation within 18 months of filing. If probable cause is found (“probable cause” means it is more likely than not that discrimination occurred), you will proceed to the next stages of the complaint process, including opportunities for settlement and perhaps a public hearing.
12. Can I get in trouble or get fired for filing a complaint?
You have the right to file a complaint based on the information you believe to be true, and it is unlawful to retaliate against you even if your belief was mistaken. The Commission notifies the organization named in your complaint of this provision of the law when it serves your charge.
If you experience any form of retaliation after filing a complaint, we encourage you to contact your investigator immediately. If you experience retaliation after serving as a witness to someone else’s complaint or speaking up about issues of discrimination in your workplace, you may file a complaint about the retaliation at the Commission just as you would file any other complaint of discrimination.
13. How much money am I entitled to if I win my sexual harassment case?
If your case results in a finding of discrimination, you may be awarded attorney’s fees, back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages, and/or interest. The amount to be paid to the person who experienced discrimination varies depending on the nature of the case and how severe the discrimination was. Payments can range from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, discrimination is very difficult to prove, and most cases do not result in a discrimination finding or any payment to the complainant.
Find Out If You Have A Sexual Harassment Case in Massachusetts
Parker Scheer has represented victims of sexual assault and harassment before the MCAD as well as in the Massachusetts trial courts. For more information on sexual assault and sexual harassment, or to find out if you have a case, contact us for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours, or call (617) 886-0500. If you need a sexual harassment lawyer outside of Massachusetts, contact us for a referral.