An audit released by Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today found the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) has not been completing investigations into claims of discrimination in the timeframe required by state regulations and its investigators have not been completing the required monthly minimum number of cases.
“Massachusetts has been a leader in addressing discrimination against its residents. However, our audit found that many Bay Staters who feel they have fallen victim to discrimination did not have their cases quickly investigated and resolved,” Bump said.
The audit found, on average, non-housing complaint cases were open 325 days beyond the 18-month deadline for resolution of these types of cases. In addition, on average, housing cases remained open 553 days beyond their 100 day deadline.
The audit also found that MCAD investigators who work on non-housing cases only closed their required number of monthly cases approximately 40 percent of the time in fiscal year 2014, and 50 percent of the time in fiscal year in 2013. Housing investigators did not complete the required number of cases in any month during FY 2013 or 2014. Investigators are required to complete at least eight substantive case closures per month for non-housing cases, and at least seven per month for housing cases. As a result of the audit recommendations, MCAD reports expanded use of electronic filing and early mediation to assist in resolving cases in required timeframes. The organization also reports implementing accountability standards to ensure investigators are meeting monthly case closure requirements. Additionally:
· MCAD could not substantiate through its records that it had collected, deposited, and reported $377,000 in civil penalties from 2004-2015;
· the agency has not properly implemented database access security controls over its case-management system to ensure only authorized individuals were able to access case files;
· MCAD did not have a plan to restore its data-processing abilities in the event of unforeseen disaster; and
· the agency’s internal control plan, payroll process, and personnel records were deficient.
MCAD has noted the positive impacts of the work of Bump’s office. In a letter sent to Bump shortly after her office completed its field work for the audit, Jamie Williamson, Chairwoman of MCAD, wrote, “Already, the work of your office is bearing fruit in the ongoing standardization of operations and development in new policies.”
MCAD is an independent agency responsible for enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and access to education. It is also tasked with investigating, prosecuting, adjudicating, and resolving cases of discrimination on behalf of individuals in protected categories, such as race, age, gender, and sexual orientation.