A Message from Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association:
In an effort to protect the health and safety of our community from the Coronavirus / COVID-19 public health crisis, we are postponing the March 26, 2020 MELA fundraising event Winning Plaintiffs: Trial Lessons From The Clients' Perspective.
In the coming days we will work with our panelists to reschedule the event and let you know when we come up with a new date. We anticipate rescheduling the event for late May or early June.
Thank you so very much for your support of MELA and your understanding during these uncertain times.
David Belfort, Elizabeth Rogers and David Conforto, MELA Development Committee
Beth Myers, MELA President
2ND ANNUAL MELA FUNDRAISER
Every winning trial plaintiff has a story which the public needed to hear and a wound the jury wanted to heal. In this diverse panel we will hear the perspective of winning clients that pressed their employment cases to verdict - and beyond. Get both the advocates’ and their client’s first hand observations as to the most effective trial techniques, the nuggets of evidence that had the greatest impact and, importantly, what fell flat that we can improve upon? Hear from the victims of discrimination and their lawyers what they feared most going before a jury and how their verdicts have changed their lives. This interactive panel will focus on the client’s perspective of the trial process, the evidence and the efficacy of their advocates and how we, as lawyers, can improve our preparation, techniques and advice to achieve positive trial outcomes.
1:00 pm - 2:45 Discussion
2:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Break
3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Discussion Continued
4:15 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Cocktails and Networking
Alves v. Trustees of Boston University;
Maria Alves suffered crippling anxiety and worry after the birth of her son three years ago and hoped that these intense “baby blues” would go away. When the feelings continued weeks post-delivery and got worse, Alves asked her then-employer, Boston University, for an extension of her maternity leave, which she was granted. Diagnosed with postpartum depression, and a loyal employee for 9 years, she asked Boston University for additional medical leave to give her more time to recover. She was denied the leave and terminated from her job, without a legitimate interactive process. She was awarded a $144,000 verdict + interest and attorneys fees. (Attorneys Matthew Fogelman, Jeffrey Simons)
Charles v. City of Boston;
Chantal Charles, a black woman and longtime public servant for the City of Boston, prevailed on her race discrimination and retaliation claims after the City and its leadership in Treasury created a “consistently enforced pattern and practice of discrimination” against black employees. The City repeatedly refused to promote Ms. Charles to upper-level management despite her outstanding performance, fostered an environment in which her supervisors denied her overtime opportunities (allowing white employees to accumulate thousands in overtime income), denied her the opportunity to accept awards for the community fund she worked on (sending white employees in her stead), and stripped the responsibilities she had held for three decades (giving them to white employees without her experience). Evidence at trial also showed that the City consistently failed to promote black employees to upper level management positions and targeted and retaliated against another black employee who filed complaints. The jury awarded Ms. Charles damages of $10,888,159, which included $500,000 in emotional distress damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages; the trial court upheld the jury verdict, but remitted the punitive damages to $2,000,000. In October 2019, the Appeals Court upheld the jury verdict and remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to reconsider the punitive damages and remittitur. Charles’ case was finally resolved by settlement. (Attorneys Emma Quinn Judge and Monica Shah)
Lopes v. City of Brockton, Department of Public Works
Russell Lopes, a Cape Verdean with two decades of experience and an Associates Degree in Mechanical Design, was rejected for a mechanical equipment repair position by the City of Brockton Department of Public Works, which at the time had only 4 non whites in a DPW workforce of 100 employees. The day after Mr. Lopes spoke out publicly about racial discrimination in hiring, the City sent an armed law enforcement team to investigate his home for non-existent code violations. This unwarranted inspection of his home, garage and yard, intimidated him and his wife into selling his home of 19 years and leaving the city where he had raised his children. In January 2020, on the eve of the class action trial for 89 non white applicants, where the evidence was to show that the hiring of non whites increased from 4% initially to 58% of positions filled after class certification, Mr. Lopes and the City announced a public $5M settlement, The settlement resolved the 2017 verdict of $4.2 M, which was on appeal, and included affirmative monetary relief for the class along with funding of two positions to ensure city wide training, initially blind screening and equal application of hiring procedures. (Attorneys: Liz Rodgers/Phil Gordon)
Racow v. Town of Winthrop
Judy Racow, a decorated police officer in the Town of Winthrop was removed from the prestigious detective unit and replaced with a less-experienced male, passed over for other positions, and investigated for false charges. The jury awarded $676,000 for emotional distress and $1,235,000 in punitive damages. The court awarded over $500,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs. The town appealed, and while the appeal was ongoing, the plaintiff suffered new instances of retaliation and continuing discrimination that led to new charges at the MCAD. The matter settled in the fall of 2019, for more than $3,000,000 with no confidentiality provisions. (Attorneys: Beth Myers and Jon Margolis)
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