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B&B Client Defeats Summary Judgment and Gets Her Day in Court Against The City of Boston

By April 6, 2021 No Comments

On April 2, a judge of the Superior Court denied efforts by the City of Boston to dismiss Bennett & Belfort’s client’s pregnancy discrimination and retaliation claims.  The client, a nine-year employee of the City is advancing claims for discrimination and retaliation and, as a result of this decision, will almost certainly have her day in Court..

The Plaintiff worked in the Communications Department of Boston Public Schools for several years, during which time she received positive performance reviews. In 2015, when she was five months pregnant, BPS hired a new head of its Communications Department. The Plaintiff alleged she observed uninvited hostility and enhanced scrutiny from her new supervisor, as compared to her co-workers. She then lodged an internal complaint of pregnancy and race discrimination to BPS’s Office of Equity (OOE).  Months later, OOE found that there was “sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations” against the supervisor for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.

Days later, the City discontinued talks about a promotion for Plaintiff, and a few months after that her position was eliminated in a department reorganization that eliminated only the Plaintiff’s position. A jury could “infer that BPS was looking for a way to terminate or force out [the Plaintiff],” Superior Court Judge Anthony Campo wrote in the decision. This was among the reasons that summary judgment on the Plaintiff’s discrimination claim was deemed inappropriate by Judge Campo.

Turning to the Plaintiff’s retaliation claims, Judge Campo’s decision highlighted evidence that the history of the Plaintiff’s complaints of discrimination and retaliation, followed by adverse actions thereafter, also permit a jury to find that the City retaliated against the Plaintiff in violation of G.L. c. 151B. The Court also left intact claims against several individuals employed by the City, stating that “there is evidence that each one of them played a part in the events leading up to [the Plaintiff’s] termination,” the judge wrote.

The Plaintiff is represented by Michaela May and Eric LeBlanc of Bennett & Belfort and Katherine Skubecz of The Law Office of Katherine Skubecz.  The Court’s decision is available in full online here.