Employment and Civil Rights

Employment and Civil Rights Representative Matters

Our Employment and Civil Rights practice addresses most disputes arising out of the employer/employee relationship. The following are some of the cases we have litigated:

Employment Discrimination Based on Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, National Origin

In re: Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, Inc., Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Suffolk County Superior Court, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Sandy P. Botelho

Over the course of ten years, we have represented a health care provider in over 30 cases brought by employees alleging some form of discrimination including gender, age, disability, race and/or national origins, sexual preference, sexual harassment and hostile work environment. We have also represented this employer in cases alleging violation of rights to privacy, as well as actions brought by a local union alleging violation of FLSA and bad faith negotiation.

Wage and Hour Violations

In re: Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, Inc., Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Sandy P. Botelho

Representation of a health care provider in several cases brought by employees alleging various wage and hour violations, and other violations of state law. We have successfully worked with the client to provide necessary documentation and where appropriate, negotiated settlements in order to avoid payment of unnecessary fees and penalties.

Disability Discrimination

Smith v. Long Bay Management Co., MCAD Docket No. BEM-2099, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie

Representation of the employer, Long Bay Management Co., against an ADA claim brought by an employee who was disciplined for sleeping on the job. The employee claimed that he was diabetic and that he had to take frequent naps due to his condition. We argued that the employer had no prior notice of the employee’s medical condition; therefore, it could not be charged with failing to make reasonable accommodations in violation of the ADA of G.L.c. 151B. The MCAD agreed and dismissed the complaint for lack of probable cause.

Negligent Hiring and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Verdone v. Rosev Dairy, et als., Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination No. 02BEM03844; Suffolk County Superior Court, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Martha M. Wishart

Defense of the employer’s president against the employee’s charges of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery. All counts against the employer were dismissed on a motion for summary judgment. Several of the counts against the president were also dismissed at that time. The remaining counts were ultimately disposed of.

Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment Claims

Case Name Withheld, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Sandy P. Botelho

Successful representation of a small chain of funeral homes against a claim of handicap discrimination by a former employee. The complainant, a cancer patient, had alleged various violations of the FMLA, ADA, and G.L.c. 151B. Through negotiation, the complainant agreed to withdraw the complaint in exchange for a small severance package.

Employment Discrimination Based on Race/National Origin

Carlos Hercules et al. v. Garment District, Inc., Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Docket No. 06BEM02987, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Sandy P. Botelho

Representation of an employer clothing store against complaints by two former employees who alleged that they were terminated based on their race and/or national origin. We successfully defended the claims by proving that the complaining employees’ positions were eliminated as part of a legitimate reduction-in-force layoff, leading to a dismissal of the complaints.

Wrongful Termination

Barros v. Spotfire, Inc., et al., Middlesex Superior Court, No.: 2000-3592
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie

Representation of the Plaintiff in this suit alleging wrongful termination of employment, based on race and ethnicity. We sought to show that the underlying reason for the termination was an impending increase in the value of the company’s IPO. After a bench trial, the matter was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Employment Discrimination Based on Race

Parkinson v. Hillcrest Educational Centers, Inc., Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Martha M. Wishart, Sandy P. Botelho

Representation of the Complainant in a case of employment discrimination based on race. The Complainant was an African-American man with a learning disability. He alleged disparate treatment from his Caucasian co-workers and supervisors at an institutional facility. We led the client through the complaint process before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and through the Discovery stage. The case was ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount.

Housing Discrimination Based on Race

Muyamina v. DEC, et als., Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination; Suffolk County Superior Court No: PLCV2002-00864, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Martha M. Wishart, Sandy P. Botelho

Representation of the Complainants, an interracial couple, in a case of housing discrimination based on race. The Complainants alleged that based on their respective national origins/races and status as an interracial couple, the seller and broker conspired to deny them Equal Housing Opportunity by requiring more stringent credit and financing approvals than were necessary, and ultimately, refusing to sign the offer to purchase. We led the client through the complaint process before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Superior Court. The Attorney General also intervened against the defendants, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. After the Discovery stage, and prior to Trial, the case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

ERISA Profit Sharing Plan Discrimination

Dunbar v. Roy Brothers, Inc., et als., U.S. District Court No. 01-CV11501RCL, Boston, and Massachusetts
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Martha M. Wishart

Representation of the Plaintiff, a participant in the Defendant’s ERISA profit sharing plan. When the Plaintiff fell ill and considered retirement, his employer provided him with false information as to his eligibility, value, and timing of the distributions due to him under the Plan, ultimately denying him a large portion of the benefits under the Plan. The Plaintiff brought suit in United Stated District Court against the Company, the Plan, the company president (as a fiduciary of the plan), and the financial services company that administered the plan. After extensive discovery, our Motion for Summary Judgment was granted. The case was ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount.

Employment Discrimination Based on Race

Gee v. Fidelity Investments, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination; Suffolk County Superior Court No. 05-0750-E, Boston, Massachusetts
Counsel: Martha M. Wishart, Sandy P. Botelho

Representation of the Complainant in a case of employment discrimination based on race. The Complainant, a high-ranking African-American woman at a major corporation, alleged that she was the victim of a systematic pattern of discrimination. This racial animus was evidenced by her job responsibilities and bonus levels being slowly downgraded during each performance period, resulting in a negative impact on the Complainant’s compensation, and ultimately resulting in her resignation. We led the client through the Complaint process at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, then took the case to Superior Court. During the Discovery phase of the case, it was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Free Exercise of Religion and Public Accommodations

Donaldson v. Farrakhan, et als., Middlesex Superior Court, No. 95-1061
Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Wilbur P. Edwards, Jr.

Representation of the Nation of Islam, a local Mosque and several individuals in an action where the Plaintiff claimed that she was barred from entering an event because of her gender, and that this violated several laws, including the Massachusetts “public accommodations” statute, G.L. c. 272, §§ 92A and 98. At the trial, the judge granted a directed verdict for the Defendants. On the Plaintiff’s appeal, we successfully represented the Defendants before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and the judgment was unanimously affirmed. 364 Mass. 94, 762 N.E. 2d 835 (2002).

Sexual Harassment

Counsel: Denzil D. McKenzie, Garrett J. Lee

A female construction worker was subjected to lewd physical gestures made by a male co-worker at a job site. Some of this behavior was witnessed by company supervisors. The female construction worker retained McKenzie & Associates to prosecute sexual harassment claims against her employer before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. On the eve of filing the Complaint against the employer, the case was settled resulting in a substantial payment to the female construction worker.