The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is an independent state agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts working to enforce anti-discrimination laws by conducting extensive investigations of discrimination complaints from citizens to determine if said cases will continue to conciliations or a public hearing. In addition, the Commission also provides trainings and information as strategies to prevent future discrimination from occurring in these different spaces.
The Commission has four office locations: Boston, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester. At these offices, alleged complaints are organized into scopes of discrimination such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. My position is an Employment Investigative Intake Intern working out of the Boston office. This entails me waking up early and taking the commuter rail from the Brandeis Roberts stop in Waltham all the way to North Station in TD Garden in the middle of the city. From there, I walk to the McCormack Building, right next to the Boston City Hall and the Old State House. The Commission is just one of many agencies in the McCormack building, along with the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Higher Education, and many more.
My job as an Employment Investigative Intake Intern has two main areas of focus. The first is to be an intake specialist. For the function of the Commission to be effective, it needs to be made available to all people alleging discrimination, whether they have the means to afford attorney representation or not. As such, pro se litigants, or people representing themselves, call the Commission to share their story of alleged discrimination in hopes of their experiences falling under the jurisdiction of the Commission to merit a neutral investigation by investigators to present the facts of their case. If those facts present a case of probable cause where discrimination is present and within jurisdiction of the Commission, the case has the opportunity to proceed to conciliations, mediation, or a public hearing, all of which are steps closer to justice.
As an intake specialist, I am trained to receive those phone calls, hear the stories of the people alleging discrimination, and draft an official complaint of their narrative as a starting point to be inspected for jurisdiction, and potentially start an investigation. These calls and drafting of the complaints allow me to talk to a range of people, and it is empowering to be participating in the process of providing neutral legal assistance for all—many of whom would otherwise have no way of reporting their experiences.
The second part of my duties as an investigative intern is to do case management. At the start of the internship, myself and my fellow interns were assigned a handful of cases for which we are responsible during our time at the Commission. These responsibilities involve reading each case from front to back, including the stories of all parties involved in the alleged discrimination and every piece of evidence that they submit to the Commission. For some of these cases, there can be hundreds of pages of exhibits and written explanations that must be sifted through, and it takes a significant amount of patience and focus to read through all of it and make sure that I have a grasp of what each document contributes to the case.
Furthermore, I am also responsible for the outlining of each case, which entails—after reading each case’s materials in their entirety—summarizing and organizing all the information to make a judgment of investigative analysis. The investigative analysis is almost like a preliminary assessment of if the investigation has revealed the facts of the case to be either a Lack of Probable Cause or Probable Cause. This is by far the most exciting and interesting part of my position because it gives me the opportunity to be involved in the actual legal understanding and application of the facts of the case that will then actually be used in the next steps of writing a disposition to be used for an official judgment. In addition to the drafting of an outline with investigative analysis, I also have the responsibility of drafting and sending out interrogatories, or additional questions to the parties involved in the alleged discrimination to fill in missing information that is necessary for coming to a finding in the case.
Working for the MCAD is teaching me a lot about the moving parts of legal cases and investigations, while also allowing me to be an active participant in providing investigative assistance combatting discrimination to all people, no matter their identities or access to legal counsel. I look forward to learning more and seeing what else I can achieve in this position to promote equity and legal justice for all people.