MCAD Watch: Cooper v. Raytheon…Employee Wins Handicap Discrimination Case

Overview: In Cooper v. Raytheon, the MCAD found in favor of the Complainant and awarded emotional distress damages. This is the MCAD’s third decision in 2016. In finding that Raytheon engaged in handicap discrimination, the hearing officer noted that the Complainant’s managers knew that he suffered from a brain injury and that “when it came time to downgrade certain employees to comply with the bell curve requirement, he was an easy target, because of his cognitive impairments.” In doing so, the MCAD pointed to: (1) evidence that Complainant’s supervisor altered his performance review and made it less favorable than the original language provided by his peers; and (2) the scant evidence that “Complainant’s performance problems were disproportionate to others, who were not disabled.”

In weighing credibility, the hearing officer did not credit the testimony of a company witness who contended that she placed Complainant on a performance improvement plan to help him succeed; rather, the hearing officer pointed to evidence suggesting that the “real intent of the PIP was to force Complainant from his position.” Finally, the MCAD noted that an extension or cancellation of the PIP, and alternatively quarterly goals as the Complainant’s sister had requested, “would likely have been an effective reasonable accommodation” in light of the nature of Complainant’s disability.

Decision Date: February 26, 2016

Docket Number: 11-BEM-01635

Hearing Officer: Judith E. Kaplan

Claims: Employment discrimination based on handicap discrimination and failure to provide reasonable accommodations / participate in the interactive process

Prevailing Party: Complainant

Back Pay: $91,424.80

Front Pay: $0

Emotional Distress: $100,000

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