A Black patient service coordinator, whose performance review reflected unacceptable performance prior to her termination, alleged racial discrimination.

Chronology of Events

Throughout her employment, a Black patient service coordinator’s multiple supervisors and colleagues had criticized her poor attendance and negative interactions with colleagues and patients. A year before her termination, the complainant received 2.9 out of 5 on her performance review, deemed by her employer as an unacceptable level. This review referenced critical feedback from patients and staff as well as excessive tardiness and absenteeism. While the complainant's performance review from the previous year was 4.5, it noted that the complainant had arrived late to, or missed, work 28 times.

Two months prior to being fired, the complainant was placed on administrative leave after she had raised her voice and been rude to a patient. When, following the patient incident, the complainant was overheard complaining about the incident in front of patients, she was terminated.


The complaint filed with Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) alleged that termination was based on the employee’s race and color.


The hospital provided documentation indicating that the complainant had been counseled about her attendance issues. The MCAD dismissed the case, finding that complainant failed to establish a prima facie case because the investigation revealed insufficient evidence that the complainant was adequately performing her job duties.

Discussion Points

  1. What steps must an employer take when an employee’s performance review demonstrates a troublesome trend?
  2. Is it fair to treat an employee’s behavior around patients differently than how they interact with coworkers?

Learn more about Employment Practices Liability

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