MCAD Digest: Patterson v. Ahold USA, Inc.…Employee Wins Discrimination Case for Unconscious Racial Bias

Overview: In Patterson v. Ahold USA, Inc., the MCAD found in favor of the Complainant and awarded back pay, front pay, and emotional distress damages for race-based discrimination. The parent company of Stop & Shop terminated the Complainant’s position in the corporate headquarters due to a reorganization and filled other open positions with white employees while passing over the Complainant, who was African-American.

Though the Respondent purported to follow a legitimate process for reorganization, the hearing officer found it quite clear from the evidence that the Respondent exercised significant discretion in selecting employees to be laid off and preserved positions for favored employees. Although there was little evidence in the record showing blatant or conscious race-based bias, that the bias was unconscious did not excuse it. The Complainant received several years of lost wages, front pay up until her 66th birthday, and damages for emotional distress.

Decision Date: August 23, 2016

Docket Number: 12-BEM-02939

Hearing Officer: Judith E. Kaplan

Claims: Employment discrimination based on race and color

Prevailing Party: Complainant

Back Pay: $156,847

Front Pay: $117,764.06

Emotional Distress: $75,000

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