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MCAD Final Decision on Gender Bias Case

Published:  March 16, 2017

The Full Commission of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) upheld a Hearing Officer’s decision in the case MCAD and Kathleen Stefani v. Department of State Police.  In 1999, Stefani was appointed to the position of Major in the Massachusetts State Police.  Upon her appointment, she became the only female Major.  In 2002, Stefani began to clash with the new Colonel and Superintendent of the State Police.  The friction began during a woman’s collapse on a train platform during the 4th of July celebration in Boston.  Based upon the woman’s collapse, and an elevated radiation reading, Stefani issued an order raising the threat level from “code yellow to code orange” without first consulting her superiors.  Other instances followed, including questions over the use of overtime by Stefani’s Troop.  Colonel Foley testified during the hearing that he felt Stefani was “not implementing his polic[ies]”, and that he gradually began to lose confidence in her.       

In March of 2003, Stefani was given the choice to either retire as a Major, or to be demoted to the rank of Captain.  Stefani accepted the demotion, although not without grievance.  In June of 2003, Kathleen Stefani filed a complaint with the MCAD against the MA State Police, alleging that she was discriminated against because of her gender (female).  Colonel Foley also demoted three male Majors at or near the same time as Stefani.  The Commission ruled that Colonel Foley’s actions were not motivated by gender bias, and the case was ultimately dismissed.

The Commission’s ruling serves as clarification that in a case such as this, the Complainant bears a heavy burden in providing evidence that the employer acted with discriminatory intent.

If you have any questions about gender bias or the reasons behind the decision of the MCAD, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal, P.C.