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Grandoit v. Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

July 12, 2019

GERARD D. GRANDOIT
v.
MASSACHUSETTS COMMISSION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION & others[1] (and three consolidated cases[2]).GERARD D. GRANDOIT
v.
BOSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY & another.

          Heard: May 14, 2019.

         Civil actions commenced in the Superior Court Department on September 22, 2017.

         Motions to dismiss were considered by Robert L. Ullman and Helene Kazanjian, JJ. Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 3, 2017.

         A motion to dismiss was heard by Linda E. Giles, J.

          Gerard D. Grandoit, pro se. Simone R. Liebman for Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

          Gabriel S. Gladstone for Operation A.B.L.E. & another.

          Kimberly A. Parr, Assistant Attorney General, for Executive Office of Health and Human Services & others, was present but did not argue.

          Michael J. Louis, for Boston Housing Authority, was present but did not argue.

          Present: Agnes, Shin, & Wendlandt, JJ.

          SHIN, J.

         The plaintiff filed five complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (commission or MCAD), alleging discrimination in housing and various discriminatory acts relating to his efforts to obtain job-training services. All of the complaints were dismissed after MCAD investigating commissioners conducted preliminary hearings and found a lack of probable cause to support the allegations. The question we address in these appeals is whether the Superior Court had jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act, G. L. c. 30A, or the certiorari statute, G. L. c. 249, § 4, to review the investigating commissioners' lack of probable cause determinations.[4] We conclude that the court had no jurisdiction and thus affirm the judgments of dismissal.

         Statutory and regulatory framework.

         "There are two largely independent avenues for redress of violations of the antidiscrimination laws of the Commonwealth, one through the MCAD (G. L. c. 151B, §§ 5-6) and the other in the courts (G. L. c. 151B, § 9)." Christo v. Edward G. Boyle Ins. Agency, Inc., 402 Mass. 815, 817 (1988). For claims of discrimination relating to housing, complainants may elect at the outset to commence a civil action in court within one year of the allegedly discriminatory act, or file a complaint with the commission within 300 days. See G. L. c. 151B, §§ 5, 9.[5] For all other claims, complainants must first file a complaint with the commission within 300 days. See G. L. c. 151B, § 5.

         Once a complaint is filed, the commission has exclusive jurisdiction over it for a period of ninety days. See G. L. c. 151B, § 9; Depianti v. Jan-Pro Franchising Int'l, Inc., 465 Mass. 607, 613 (2013). At the expiration of the ninety days, "or sooner if a commissioner assents in writing," the complainant may, "not later than three years after the alleged unlawful practice occurred, bring a civil action for damages or injunctive relief or both." G. L. c. 151B, ยง 9. The civil action and the commission proceeding may not occur simultaneously. Thus, if a complainant brings a civil action, the commission must dismiss any pending complaint, and ...


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