Cuddyer v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co.

Here, the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a worker on production lines.  Since the first day she was sexually harassed by her supervisor and two foremen, as were other women workers. Although plaintiff reported some of the incidents, she did not report all because she was afraid the supervisor would make her work harder if she complained. Complaints to management were followed by periods of relief, but the sexual harassment would restart or would turn into a hostile work environment. Similar occurrences continued and the plaintiff filed the suit against the defendant for a hostile work environment. Gen. Law. C. 151B, § 5 requires a plaintiff to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (“MCAD”) within six months of the occurrence of the discrimination to allow the MCAD an opportunity to investigate the claim and to provide the defendant with notice of potential liability. However, this requirement does not exist where the discrimination is of a continuing nature and where there is a discrete violation within the six-month period to anchor the earlier claims. Here, the plaintiff did not file a complaint with the MCAD within six months of the first occurrence. The defendant argued that the continuing violation doctrine does not apply here because the plaintiff admitted in her deposition that she considered the discrimination by other employees at the time the acts occurred. A continuing violation claim will fail if the plaintiff should have been aware that she was being discriminated against while the earlier acts which are now untimely, were taking place. Id. at 534-35. The court found though that a plaintiff may not be able to appreciate the true character of the discriminatory environment until after it has continued for some time. Further, a hostile work environment constitutes a pattern of sexual harassment, which by definition, has to take place over time. The court found the plaintiff’s claims were thus timely and not barred by the six-month requirement.

Year 

2001

Institution 

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Avon Center work product 

ID 

502