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July 12, 2024 Clouds | 84°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 3: Functions, powers and duties of commission

Section 3. The commission shall have the following functions, powers and duties:

1. To establish and maintain its principal office in the city of Boston and such other offices within the commonwealth as it may deem necessary.

2. To meet and function at any place within the commonwealth.

3. To appoint such attorneys, clerks, and other employees and agents as it may deem necessary, fix their compensation within the limitations provided by law, and prescribe their duties.

4. To obtain upon request and utilize the services of all executive departments and agencies.

5. To adopt, promulgate, amend, and rescind rules and regulations suitable to carry out the provisions of this chapter, and the policies and practice of the commission in connection therewith.

6. To receive, investigate and pass upon complaints of unlawful practices, as hereinafter defined, alleging discrimination because of the race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, which shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor children as the sex object, age, genetic information, ancestry, children, marital status, veteran status or membership in the armed services, the receiving of public assistance, or handicap of any person alleging to be a qualified handicapped person. The term ''sexual orientation'' shall mean having an orientation for or being identified as having an orientation for heterosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality. The commission through its chairman may appoint a single commissioner to hold public hearings, as hereinafter provided, and to otherwise act on its behalf in connection therewith; provided, however, that a person aggrieved by the decision of said single commissioner may, within ten days of said decision, file an appeal for rehearing or review by the commission.

7. To hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, administer oaths, take the testimony of any person under oath, and in connection therewith, to require the production for examination of any books or papers relating to any matter under investigation or in question before the commission. The commission may make rules as to the issuance of subpoenas by individual commissioners.

No person shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, records, correspondence, documents or other evidence in obedience to the subpoena of the commission, on the ground that the testimony or evidence required of him may tend to incriminate him or subject him to a penalty or forfeiture; but no individual shall be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter or thing concerning which he is compelled, after having claimed his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or produce evidence, except that such individual so testifying shall not be exempt from prosecution and punishment for perjury committed in so testifying.

8. To create such local or regional advisory boards as in its judgment will aid in effectuating the purposes of this chapter. Each advisory board shall consist of not less than eleven members. To the extent reasonably possible the members of each board shall include representatives of owners and brokers of residential property; major lending and credit institutions; major private employers; a local personnel or civil service administrator; local post-secondary educational institutions; local labor organizations; minority racial, ethnic and linguistic groups; women; elderly and handicapped persons; and recipients of public assistance. The members of such advisory boards shall serve without pay but shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses. The commission may provide technical and clerical assistance to the advisory boards.

9. To issue such publication and such results of investigations and research as in its judgment will tend to promote good will and minimize or eliminate discrimination because of the race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, which shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor children as the sex object, age, genetic information or ancestry.

10. To render each year to the governor and to the general court a full written report of its activities and of its recommendations.

11. To adopt an official seal.

12. To give its opinion upon questions submitted to it by any employer, employment agency or labor organization concerning whether any existing or proposed requirement for employment or for membership in such organization is a bona fide occupational qualification. Copies of such opinions shall be maintained in the files of the commission at its office and shall be available during regular business hours for public inspection. An opinion, or a request therefor, given under this subsection shall not operate to interfere with any proceeding under section five.

13. To adopt, promulgate, amend, and rescind rules and regulations, jointly with the attorney general, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of subsection 13 of section four, including special regulations applicable to neighborhoods or areas found by the commission, with the concurrence of the attorney general, to be threatened with deterioration or instability associated with the entry or prospective entry into such neighborhoods or areas of a person or persons of a particular age, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or economic level.

14. To accept gifts, contributions or bequests of funds or other aid from any source, whether public or private and from federal, state or other governmental bodies for the purpose of furthering the commissions mandate; provided, however, that all amounts received pursuant to this paragraph shall be deposited with the treasurer and made available to the commission for expenditure for any purposes authorized by this chapter.

15. To set, charge and retain fees and costs, subject to section 3B of chapter 7, including, but not limited to, training fees and costs incurred responding to requests under the commonwealth's public records law; provided, that the commission may, where appropriate, provide for the waiver of the fees; to retain reasonable attorney's fees and costs awarded to a prevailing complainant, under section 5, when one of its attorneys presents the charge of discrimination before the commission on behalf of the prevailing complainant. All amounts received under this clause shall be deposited to the General Fund.