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Under the Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination law, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other employment laws, employers have a duty to investigate complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.  The purpose of an investigation is to get to the factual bottom of the allegations to inform adequate remedial steps to address the situation.  Since every complaint has the potential to become a lawsuit, it is imperative that the company act decisively and swiftly to ensure a prompt and effective investigation.

The attorneys at Rodman Employment Law are skilled at workplace investigations.  In addition to understanding employment law, our attorneys are objective, detail-focused, and possess the soft skills necessary to conduct interviews and build rapport.  There are many benefits to retaining us for investigations:

  • Our work product is protected by attorney-client privilege which can be waived as needed without impacting the attorney-client relationship between the company and its usual counsel.
  • Rodman Employment Law’s lawyers offer the unique perspective of having represented both management and employee.
  • We can work collaboratively with your existing team, including Human Resources, inside counsel, or others in management.

Allegations of discrimination or sexual harassment must be properly investigated, and failure to do so can result in substantial punitive damages.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial (SJC) established a two-part test to determine whether a plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages based on a sexually hostile work environment created by another employee. Emma Gyulakian v. Lexus of Watertown, Inc., et. al., 475 Mass. 290 (2016).

The test first asks whether the employer had notice of the harassment and failed to take adequate steps to investigate and remedy the situation.  Second, was that failure to investigate “outrageous or egregious.”  The SJC relied on a set of factors it outlined in precedent:

  • whether there was a conscious or purposeful effort to demean or diminish the class of which the plaintiff is a part (or the plaintiff because he or she is a member of the class);
  • whether the defendant was aware that the discriminatory conduct would likely cause serious harm, or recklessly disregarded the likelihood that serious harm would arise;
  • the actual harm to the plaintiff;
  • the defendant’s conduct after learning that the initial conduct would likely cause harm;
  • the duration of the wrongful conduct and any concealment of that conduct by the defendant.

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If your company has received a complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment, call us at (617) 820-5250 or contact us online to speak with a member of our team.