In a decision issued on August 25, 2021, our client Kehle Osborne-Trussell prevailed at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in a case involving the state’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Act (the “DVLA”). Represented by B&B Managing Partner Michael Mason, Ms. Osborne-Trussell filed claims under the statute after Children’s Hospital rescinded her offer of employment.
Ms. Osborne-Trussell accepted the job offer from Children’s, went through the required employment verifications, and was scheduled to begin work. Prior to her start date, she notified the Hospital that she had a Harassment Prevention Order (or “HPO”) against a stalker and that she was in the process of enforcing it through the local Police Department. Children’s then revoked her job offer.
The DVLA guarantees employees leave time to obtain and enforce HPOs and other restraining orders. It also prohibits employers from restraining or interfering with employees’ rights to that leave, as well as from retaliating against employees who request or use leave time. After the Trial Court judge dismissed the case on the basis that Ms. Osborne-Trussell had not made a formal request for a specific leave period, she appealed, and the SJC took the case.
The SJC reversed the Trial Court judge’s decision. Among other things, the SJC held that Ms. Osborne-Trussell’s notice to Children’s Hospital was “protected activity” that triggered the Hospital’s obligations under the law. The SJC reinstated her claims under the DVLA and clarified what employees who sue under the law need to show in order to make a valid claim.
This is a very gratifying win for B&B and our client, and we are excited to see how the law in this area continues to develop.