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General Laws

Section 9. This chapter shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of its purposes, and any law inconsistent with any provision of this chapter shall not apply, but nothing contained in this chapter shall be deemed to repeal any provision of any other law of this commonwealth relating to discrimination; but, as to acts declared unlawful by section 4, the administrative procedure provided in this chapter under section 5 shall, while pending, be exclusive; and the final determination on the merits shall exclude any other civil action, based on the same grievance of the individual concerned.

Any person claiming to be aggrieved by a practice made unlawful under this chapter or under chapter one hundred and fifty-one C, or by any other unlawful practice within the jurisdiction of the commission, may, at the expiration of ninety days after the filing of a complaint with the commission, or sooner if a commissioner assents in writing, but not later than three years after the alleged unlawful practice occurred, bring a civil action for damages or injunctive relief or both in the superior or probate court for the county in which the alleged unlawful practice occurred or in the housing court within whose district the alleged unlawful practice occurred if the unlawful practice involves residential housing. The petitioner shall notify the commission of the filing of the action, and any complaint before the commission shall then be dismissed without prejudice, and the petitioner shall be barred from subsequently bringing a complaint on the same matter before the commission. Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful practice relative to housing under this chapter, but who has not filed a complaint pursuant to section five, may commence a civil action in the superior or probate court for the county in which the alleged unlawful practice occurred or in the housing court within whose district the alleged unlawful practice occurred; provided, however, that such action shall not be commenced later than one year after the alleged unlawful practice has occurred. An aggrieved person may also seek temporary injunctive relief in the superior, housing or probate court within such county at any time to prevent irreparable injury during the pendency of or prior to the filing of a complaint with the commission.

An action filed pursuant to this section shall be advanced for a speedy trial at the request of the petitioner. If the court finds for the petitioner, it may award the petitioner actual and punitive damages. If the court finds for the petitioner it shall, in addition to any other relief and irrespective of the amount in controversy, award the petitioner reasonable attorney’s fees and costs unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust. The commission shall, upon the filing of any complaint with it, notify the aggrieved person of his rights under this section.

Any person claiming to be aggrieved by a practice concerning age discrimination in employment made unlawful by section four may bring a civil action under this section for damages or injunctive relief, or both, and shall be entitled to a trial by jury on any issue of fact in an action for damages regardless of whether equitable relief is sought by a party in such action. If the court finds for the petitioner, recovery shall be in the amount of actual damages; or up to three, but not less than two, times such amount if the court finds that the act or practice complained of was committed with knowledge, or reason to know, that such act or practice violated the provisions of said section four. The provisions set forth in the first, second and third paragraphs shall be applicable to such complaint or action to the extent that such provisions do not conflict with the provisions set forth in this paragraph.

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