College-Town, Div. of Interco, Inc. v. Mass. Comm’n Against Discrimination

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Here, an employer appealed the superior court’s decision that it discriminated against an employee on the basis of sex. A few weeks after College-Town hired the employee, Rizzi, Rizzi’s supervisor began making sexually suggestive comments to her. Once he touched her back, and another time he put his hand over a slit in her dress and told her to fix her skirt. On one occasion, Rizzi asked her supervisor to review her performance in a meeting and he told her that she handled it well and that he “liked the way [her] tits stood out in the red shirt.” Once, he asked her if she was a good f----. Rizzi then spoke to the director of manufacturing, who told her he was “not qualified to go into these things,” and refused to talk to her. Rizzi had to wait several days before she could tell someone else at work. A College-Town executive finally spoke with the supervisor about the allegations, which were denied. A meeting was held to determine the truth of the allegations, which the supervisor and all other women in the department attended except for Rizzi. She was not asked to the meeting or notified of its occurrence. At the meeting, the supervisor explained the allegations and Rizzi’s co-workers were generally supportive of the supervisor. College-Town made no further investigation. Prior to that meeting, Rizzi sought a promotion to a position in another department. After the meeting was held, Rizzi was informed she was not qualified for the promotion and College-Town hired someone with more knowledge and experience. Soon thereafter, College-Town attempted to transfer Rizzi as tension in the office was affecting productivity and she declined. Rizzi was never told the transfer was mandatory, and within weeks of her denial, she was discharged. The trial court found that College-Town’s supervisor created a sexually harassing work environment, it failed to remedy the situation, and it retaliated against the employee in its attempt to transfer her and discharge her once she declined the transfer. Id. at 158. The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed the decision and found that sexual harassment may constitute discrimination under Gen. L. C. 151B, §4(1), which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of gender.




Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Avon Center work product