Employment discrimination cases

Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz has been on the cutting edge of employment discrimination law for decades. Our employee rights cases in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court were selected as among the Ten Most Important Decisions in 1995, 1996 and 1997. In 1998, one of our employee rights cases was decided by the United States Supreme Court. We continue to litigate the leading cases in the state and federal courts.

Daniel Bogan and Marilyn Roderick v. Janet Scott-Harris, United States Supreme Court No. 96-1569, Oral Argument December 3, 1997 -- This First Amendment case against the City of Fall River addresses, for the first time, the question of whether members of local governing bodies, such as city councils, are protected by absolute legislative immunity, as are members of state legislatures. The case was widely reported in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and on ABC News and National Public Radio.

Donald Blare v. Husky Molding Systems, Inc., 419 Mass. 437 (1995) -- Lawyers Weekly Top Ten Cases of 1995, This age discrimination case established a new burden of proof standard for all employment discrimination cases. At the plaintiff's urging the SJC chose not to follow the United States Supreme Court burden of proof standard and created a different standard under state law. This decision has been the subject of several Lawyers Weekly articles and many continuing education seminars.

Janice Daigle v. University of Massachusetts and Michael Rudomin, Worcester Superior Court, January 1995 -- Sexual harassment case. The plaintiff obtained a jury verdict of $1 million, including $750,000 punitive damages award. According to Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly, this is the largest sexual harassment verdict in Massachusetts. The verdict was affirmed on appeal.

Kathleen Pielech, et, al. v. Massasoit Greyhound, Inc., 423 Mass. 534 (1996) -- Lawyers Weekly Top Ten Cases of 1996. Plaintiffs were fired because they refused to work on Christmas in violation of their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Judicial Court adopted plaintiffs' argument that the religious discrimination statute, G.L. c. 151B §4(1A), had been incorrectly interpreted in the Court's prior line of cases. The SJC declared the statute unconstitutional and the Massachusetts Legislature enacted remedial legislation. As a direct result of this case similar corrective legislation was introduced in the United States Senate.

Joanna Upton v. JWP/Businessland, Supreme Judicial Court, 425 Mass. 756 (1997) -- Public policy wrongful termination of employment case in which the plaintiff, a single mother, alleges she was fired because she refused to work such lengthy hours as would have required her to neglect her child. The case raises serious public policy issues about work and family responsibilities. It received considerable attention , including supportive columns in the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor, plus national coverage on ABC News, and is used as a case model at the Harvard Business School. This case was selected by "Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly" as one of the ten most important decisions of 1997.

Robin Bain v. City of Springfield, 424 Mass. 758 (1997) -- Wrote successful amicus brief on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union urging the Supreme Judicial Court to hold that the Commonwealth can be held liable for punitive damages for employment discrimination.

Kathleen Sohar and Dennis Werner v. Vyvx, Inc., Suffolk Superior Court -- Represented two management employees who were fired when they refused to give their employer hair samples for drug testing. The employees were concerned the hair samples would be retained for genetic testing. This is one of the first employment cases in the nation to involve concerns about genetic testing. The case was featured on ABC News.

Carol Bock, et. al. v. City of Newton, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination -- Represented six female professional and management employees of the City of Newton who complained about a sexually hostile work environment at City Hall. The case received extensive publicity before it settled and resulted in the termination of the head of the city's Planning Department and significant revisions in the city's sexual harassment policies and procedures.

Danny Sherman v. EAC Operations, Inc., 42 Mass. App. Ct. 1112 (1997) -- Massachusetts Civil Rights Act case in which plaintiff alleged he was fired to prevent him from reporting his supervisor's illegal conduct.

Janet Scott-Harris v. Fall River, 36 Fed. R. Serv.3d 1150 (1st Cir 1997), 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 594 -- First Amendment free speech case by Fall River's first African-American city administrative employee. The First Circuit affirmed judgments against the mayor and a city council member.

Donald Tardanico v. Aetna Insurance, 41 Mass. App. Ct. 443 (1996) -- Age discrimination case.

Charles Stella v. Town of Tewksbury, 63 F.3d 71 (1st Cir. 1995), 4 F.3d 53 (1st Cir. 1993) -- First Amendment free speech case by public officials. In successive appeals this case established standards for summary judgment and for legislative immunity interlocutory appeals.

David Miller v. Town of Hull, 878 F.2d 523 (1st Cir. 1989), cert. denied 493 U.S. 976 (1989) -- First Amendment free speech case representing Redevelopment Authority members removed from office because of their votes. Established principle that votes of elected officials are First Amendment protected speech.

Salvatore Derose v. Putnam Management Co., 398 Mass. 205 (1986) -- First Massachusetts appellate decision to recognize cause of action for wrongful termination of employment in violation of public policy.

Noella Santerre and Adele Cabral v. Paul Pereira and Fraternal Insurance Group, Bristol Superior Court, December 1997 -- Sexual harassment hostile workplace trial. Plaintiffs' verdict with $100,000 punitive damages award.

Richard Haddocks v. Department of Mental Health, Suffolk Superior Court, July 1995 -- Race and sex discrimination trial. Defendants settled after plaintiff's evidence was completed.

Danny Sherman v. EAC, Inc., Plymouth Superior Court, April 1995 -- Wrongful termination of employment trial.

John Mendoza v. Union Street Bus Company, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, December 1994 -- Race discrimination in employment case. Plaintiff's verdict with attorneys fee award.

Doe v. Bell Atlantic Business Systems Services, Inc., 162 F.R.D. 418, 66 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 43,711 (D.Mass., Aug 01, 1995) -- Sexual harassment case.

Saad v. Stanley Street Treatment and Resources, Inc., 1994 WL 846911 (D.Mass., May 20, 1994) -- Sexual harassment case.


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