Overview: In Canton v. Biga Wholesale, Martin, etc., the MCAD found in favor of the Complainant, awarding back pay and emotional distress damages for claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. The Complainant, who worked in bread production for Biga’s multiple bakery entities, credibly testified that her direct supervisor began making advances toward her. The Complainant rebuffed these advances, at which point they intensified to include unwanted grabbing/kissing and an offer by the supervisor to credit the Complainant for working a shift if she went home with him. The Complainant’s supervisor subsequently reduced her hours after she continued to reject his advances. After hiring an attorney and notifying company leadership of these incidents, the Complainant was eventually laid off.
The hearing officer concluded that the Complainant was the target of a “relentless campaign” of unwanted sexual propositions and that she suffered adverse changes in the terms of her employment as a result of rejecting those advances. Furthermore, the Complainant was subjected to a hostile work environment because her supervisor’s conduct so clearly crossed the boundaries of a professional relationship. The hearing officer also found that the Complainant was laid off in retaliation to objecting to such conduct and that the actions of the company’s personnel officer in response were so egregious as to make her individually liable.