Overview: In Martins v. Isabel’s Pizza DBA Papa John’s Pizza, the MCAD found in favor of the Complainant and awarded emotional distress damages with 13 weeks of back pay. The Complainant, who at the time was a high school student working as a pizza-maker for a Papa John’s franchise, brought claims of sexual harassment and constructive discharge against the franchise operator. She had received increasingly sexually suggestive text messages from her manager; eventually, the manager cornered her at the end of a night shift and groped her.
The manager was fired and was subsequently charged with indecent assault and battery, which resulted in a plea deal. Shortly after the incident, the Complainant learned that two of the manager’s cousins had come to the business looking for her, which she interpreted as a threat. The hearing officer determined that the events were clearly sufficiently severe and pervasive to create a hostile work environment and that the Respondent was vicariously liable. Additionally, the potential threat of workplace violence coupled with the employer’s insufficient response meant that the Complainant had been constructively discharged.