MCAD Digest: Lapete v. Country Bank …Employee Receives Back Pay and Emotional Distress Damages After Successful Unlawful Termination Claim

Overview: In Lapete v. Country Bank, the MCAD found in favor of the Complainant and awarded back pay and emotional distress damages. The hearing officer determined that the Respondent bank failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for the Complainant’s disability—post-partum depression following the birth of her son via emergency C-section—and improperly terminated the Complainant instead of granting a reasonable request for a brief extension of medical leave.

Although the Complainant had been on leave for more than the 12 weeks afforded by statute and the FMLA, the Complainant met her obligation to engage in an interactive dialogue and keep the Respondent informed as to her condition. The Respondent, conversely, arbitrarily terminated the Complainant without engaging in any interactive dialogue. At the time of her termination, the Complainant was only seeking a few additional weeks of leave and not an indefinite extension. The hearing officer reasoned that sole reliance on the 12-week leave period required by the FMLA would be misguided because “Massachusetts disability law requires a more flexible approach” in determining what constitutes reasonable accommodation.

Decision Date: February 5, 2017

Docket Number: 10-SEM-02769

Hearing Officer: Judith E. Kaplan

Claims: Unlawful termination based on disability and gender

Prevailing Party: Complainant

Back Pay: $12,197.57

Front Pay: $0

Emotional Distress: $50,000

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