David Belfort is a founding member and managing partner of Bennett & Belfort, P.C. David has been licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1996, with privileges in both state and federal court. He is also licensed in the District of Columbia. David was elected president of the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association (MELA) for two terms, serving from 2012 to 2014. David is rated AV Preeminent® in his field, the highest available peer-based ranking afforded by Martindale-Hubbell. From 2006 through 2017 David was selected as “Super Lawyer” based on peer nominations, evaluations and research; additionally, from 2014 through 2017, David was named a Massachusetts “Top 100 Super Lawyer.” From 2016 through 2018, based on peer review surveys, David was recognized as a New England “Best Lawyer” in the categories of Labor and Employment and Individual Representation in Employment Law.
David also co-handled the trial and appeal in Haddad v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 455 Mass 91 (2009), wherein the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) affirmed a $2,000,000 jury verdict under M.G.L. 151B. In Haddad, the SJC restored a $1,000,000 punitive damages award and almost $1,000,000 in attorneys’ fees in what is believed to be Massachusetts’ largest gender discrimination jury trial verdict of 2007. The Haddad case remains an important precedent-setting decision that clarifies the legal standard for punitive and front pay damages as well as reviews what evidence constitutes “pretext” and emotional distress damages in the Commonwealth.
In January 2018, David co-represented the Plaintiff in the jury trial of Richard A. DaPrato v. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (Docket No. 1584 CV 03687). The Plaintiff, who brought claims against his former employer for retaliation under the Family Medical Leave Act and failure to accommodate pursuant to the Massachusetts disability discrimination law (M.G.L. 151B), secured a judgment of almost $2,000,000 in damages for lost pay (including pension losses), emotional distress, punitive damages, statutory liquidated damages and reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Education / Background
David obtained his B.A., with honors, from Hobart College in 1992 with a concentration in Economics and Political Science. After a short stint with the New York State Department of Health, he obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, with an emphasis in business law, health care, and trial practice. In 1996, David began work as an associate in the litigation department of the Law Offices of Frank N. Dardeno, LLP and was made partner in January 2001. In 2003, David founded Corrigan, Bennett & Belfort, PC, which since 2010 has been Bennett & Belfort, P.C.
David focuses on civil litigation, concentrating on employment and business matters. He currently represents a number of individual and institutional clients before both judicial and administrative tribunals, including state and federal courts, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workplace Development.
David handles matters in all areas of employment discrimination including those based on race, color, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender, age, handicap, disability, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation and genetics. Additionally, he provides advisory services and litigates restrictive covenants including non-competition agreements, non-solicitation terms, confidentiality provisions and trade secret issues. David also has an active wage-related practice which includes non-payment, minimum wage and over-time claims. David’s employment practice includes Family Medical Leave, whistleblower claims, retaliation claims, privacy claims and unemployment matters. David’s business practice focuses on shareholder disputes, fiduciary duty violations, officer, director and partner disputes, contract actions, complex commercial disputes and other related matters.
David is a frequent speaker and author on recent developments in employment law and has been quoted in a wide range of general circulation articles and law journals. A list of Seminar/Publication/Media highlights appears below.
Professional Associations and Committee Work
David was selected to serve as the affiliate bar liaison for the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association (MELA). David recently completed his three year term as MELA’s representative on the Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments, which reviews, evaluates, votes and reports on the qualifications of individuals under consideration for all judicial appointments to all courts of the Commonwealth. The Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments is one of the last layers of review in the judicial nominating process and works to ensure that candidates for tenure positions are both qualified and competent.
David has a longstanding commitment to MELA and served as its president from 2012 to 2014. Prior to his election as president, David also served MELA as vice president from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, David also served as a member of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Committee to Propose Draft Disability Regulations.
David is an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and co-chaired the MBA’s Labor and Employment Section Council for two years. While on the MBA Labor and Employment Section Council, he served on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) committee to propose reforms to the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) (Now Parental Leave) in light of the Goodridge same sex marriage decision. David previously served the Bar Association as the vice-chair of the Employment Section Council, chair of the Employment Section’s Continuing Legal Education Sub-committee, co-chair of the Annual MBA Employment Conference Committee and MBA Employment Council liaison to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. David served on the Civil Litigation section council as co-chair of the Publications and Website Subcommittees. In 2014-15, David was reappointed to the Labor & Employment Section Council and served as the co-chair of the Publications Subcommittee while this year he is the Legislative chair.
David is a volunteer member of Health Law Advocates (HLA), a pro bono advocacy organization aimed at improving access to health care for under-served populations. David’s pro bono services provided through HLA have included securing waivers of large medical debts and assisting clients to qualify for state health insurance benefits.
David is currently serving his second year as an elected board member for the non-profit Cabot After School Program (CASP), acting as chair of CASP’s Personnel and Human Resources Committee. For the past eight years, David has volunteered as a youth soccer coach for both the Newton Youth Soccer Club (NYS) and the Newton Girls Soccer Club (NGS).
David resides in Newton, Massachusetts with his amazing wife, Mandy, a neonatologist, and their three energetic and inspiring children, Zachary, Nadia and Samuel.
Seminars / Publications / Media
Following is a list of David’s speaking engagements, media quotes and articles:
Quoted in “Officer files discrimination Charges – A female detective is charging the police chief with discrimination after he removed her from the detectives division” by Anita Perkins, Haverhill Eagle Tribune. October 1, 2001, Vol. 282, No. 79.
Co-chaired, moderated and conducted a number of mock evidentiary arguments before Judges Gants, Cratsley and Fabricant in an evidence demonstration and seminar at the Massachusetts Bar Association. September 2005.
Presented at a Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminar entitled “The Bermuda Triangle: The FLMA, ADA and Worker’s Comp Statute” relative to “Reasonable accommodations in handicap discrimination.”
Served as Program Chair and Moderator for Massachusetts Bar Association Luncheon Roundtable on “Fiduciary Duty of the Employee/Shareholder in a Closely Held Corporation.” May 2006.
Contributed to The Employee-Shareholder: at the Frontier of Employment and Business Law Vol. 9 No. 2 2007 Section Review – Massachusetts Bar Association at page 27 authored by David E. Belfort and Michael L. Mason.
Co-Chaired Massachusetts Bar Association legal education seminar “Effectively Proving Emotional Distress Damages in Employment Discrimination Cases: In Court before the MCAD at Arbitration and in Mediation.” April 2007.
Presented at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Annual Employment Law Conference relative to “Expert Witnesses and Damages in Employment Discrimination Claims.” December 2007.
Co-presented a lecture at the Massachusetts Bar Association General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Annual Conference on Reductions in Force (RIF) and termination agreements, specifically relative to employment claims associated with RIF, including termination agreements and how to best deal with separation agreement terms that relate to compensation, continuation of benefits, releases, confidentiality, disparagement, references, restrictive covenants (non-compete/non-solicitation) and the OWBPA Provisions (ADEA). February 2008.
Presented a seminar on “Employee Discharge and Documentation in Massachusetts” at Lorman Education Services, relative to “Common Management and Human Resources Mistakes.” January, 2009.
Quoted in A Legal Analysis: How Two Pierce Alumni Won Their Case Against The Nation’s Largest Retailer by Sharon Callahan, Pierce Law, Winter 2008, Vol. 12, No. 1 page 14.
Presented at the Massachusetts Bar Association “Latest In the Law” conference relative to the newly enacted modifications to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). May 2009.
Gave the opening remarks for the 30th Annual Labor and Employment Law Spring Conference as the co-chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section. June 2009.
Quoted in “‘Unusual’ HR expert key to $2M Wal-Mart verdict” by Noah Schaffer, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. June, 2009 35 MLW 2323.
Contributed to Through Corrective Lenses: Congress’ Attempt to Re-Focus the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2009 Section Review – Massachusetts Bar Association at page 22 by David E. Belfort and Linda Huynh.
Quoted in Local Woman Beats Wal-Mart by Conor Berry, The Berkshire Eagle. October 2009.
Quoted in “Massachusetts Court Upholds $2 Million Jury Award to Fired Wal-Mart Pharmacist” by Janet Cecelia Walthall, Daily Labor Report. October 2009, Vol. 2009, No. 193.
Quoted in “SJC: Punitive damages only for egregious acts – Court announces new standard for bias cases” by Julia Reischel, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. October 2009, Vol. 38, Issue 8.
Co-Presented the MBA Legal Education Seminar entitled “Employment Law for Lawyers” at the Massachusetts Bar Association. December 2010.
Contributing author to “Drafter Beware – Employment Handbooks as Binding Contracts” which ran in Massachusetts Bar Association materials for seminar entitled “Employment Law for Lawyers.” December 2010.
Contributing author to “Ten Key Separation Agreement Issues,” a checklist which ran in Massachusetts Bar Association materials for seminar entitled “Employment Law for Lawyers.” December 2010.
Guest lecturer at New England School of Law presenting “Disability Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodations,” 2010-2013.
Guest lecturer at New Hampshire Association for Justice Seminar, presenting “Big Verdicts in New England Employment Cases.” October 2010.
Served as Panel Chair on “Proving Emotional Distress and Punitive Damages” at the National Lawyers Association New England Regional Employment Conference. May 2011.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article “Final ADA Regulations Reinforce Broad View of ‘Disability’” by Phillip Bantz and Correy Stephenson. Vol. 39, Issue 37, May 2011.
Guest lecturer at Boston College Law School regarding Advanced Legal Writing in Employment Cases. 2011-2013.
Served as a panelist on Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) panel for “Employment Case Law, Legislative Developments & Trends Update, 2012.” April 2012.
Quoted in The Boston Herald, “Marylou’s hit with discrimination inquiry: Coffee house chain bitter over federal ‘witch hunt,’” by John Zaremba. May 2012.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “’But-for’ causation needed to prove retaliation claim,” by Lisa Keen and Thomas E. Egan. August 2012.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “‘Small’ Wage Act retaliation claim results in big verdict,” by Lisa Keen. September 2012.
Co-presented the annual seminal case summary entitled “Discrimination Law Update 2012” at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) 15th Annual Employment Law Conference, “Employment Law 2012.” December 2012.
Served as panelist on leadership workshop “Implementation and Enforcement of List-serve Policies and Practices” for the National Employment Lawyers Association Annual Convention. June 2013.
Served as a panelist at the Massachusetts Bar Association seminar “Employment Law for Lawyers.” March 2014.
Served as speaker and panelist at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education “Employment Law Spring Symposium” presenting lectures on “Legalized Marijuana and the Workplace” and “Spinning a Masterful Deposition Spider Web.” May 2014.
Served as speaker on “Employment Issues Affecting Personal Injury Claimants” at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. May 2014.
Moderated the “Labor and Employment Case Update Panel” at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 36th Annual Labor & Employment Law Spring Conference at Suffolk University Law School April 2015.
Lecturer on Employment Law issues for Massachusetts Bar Association’s legal education conference “How to Start and Run a Successful Solo or Small Firm Practice” May 2015.
Presented at “Employment Law: Primer and Pitfalls” for Hobart Alumni Association in Boston, MA. June 2015.
Co-Chair for Massachusetts Bar Association Labor and Employment Section Council Legislative Roundtable on “Employment related bills with Three Massachusetts State Legislators” November, 2015.
Presented at a Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminar entitled “Top 25 Key Cases Every Employment Litigator & Counselor Must Know.“ February 2015 & February 2016.
Chaired Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminar entitled “Proving & Valuing Damages in Employment Cases.” 2013 – 2018.
Moderated panel at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 37th Annual Labor & Employment Law Spring Conference entitled “Critical Labor and Employment Law Developments.” May, 2016.
Author of an article in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Lawyer’s Journal entitled “The Value of Disconnecting.” March, 2016.
Co-Chair for Massachusetts Bar Association Labor and Employment Section Council panel entitled “Handling Psychiatric Disabilities in the Workplace.” September, 2016.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “Non-Compete Confusion” by Kris Olson. March, 2017.
Cited in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “Fired Employee With Company Shares Alleges ‘Freeze Out’ Sues For Fair Market Value Of Investment: $2.1 Million Settlement” April, 2017.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “Individual supervisor can face FMLA liability: Deemed ‘employer’ by federal judge” by Eric T. Berkman. Lawyers Weekly No. 02-234-17. May, 2017.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “Breach-Of-Fiduciary-Duty Claim vs. Accountant Allowed: Bosses Fail To Read Key Documents Creating Equity Share” by Pat Murphy. Lawyers Weekly No. 09-043-17. December, 2017.
Quoted in Boston Globe article entitled “Jury Awards Former MWRA Worker $1.2 million for wrongful termination” by Danny McDonald. January, 2018.
Quoted in Law360 article entitled “Ex-Mass. Authority Worker Awarded $1.2M For Wrongful Firing” by Alison Noon. January, 2018.
Quoted in U.S. News & World Report article entitled “Jury Awards Man $1.2 Million for Wrongful Termination” by the Associated Press. January, 2018.
Cited in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “Fired MWRA worker awarded $1.2 million” January, 2018.
Co-Presented at the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association (MELA) case review seminar on the jury verdict and judgment issued in Richard A. DaPrato v. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (Docket No. 1584 CV 03687). March, 2018.
Cited in New England (Vol 30/Issue 2/Page 21) and Employment law (Vol 13/Issue 10/Page 20) Verdict Search case reporter journals relative to the jury verdict and judgment issued in Richard A. DaPrato v. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority(Docket No. 1584 CV 03687). February-March, 2018.
Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article entitled “Good Faith Not Enough To Rebut FMLA Claim: Liquidated Damages Deemed Proper If Actions Unreasonable” by Kris Olson. Lawyers Weekly No. 12-013-18. April 12, 2018.
Presented at the Rhode Island Bar Association Labor Law and Employment Committee case review seminar on the jury verdict and judgment issued in Richard A. DaPrato v. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (Docket No. 1584 CV 03687). May 23, 2018.
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