Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Make That Retaliation Three, Employers Zero - Another MDV


Although chronologically the verdict came before the two Supreme Court decisions I mentioned yesterday, I just read this Boston Globe headline this morning, Ex-Cambridge city worker is awarded $4.5m in suit. A good reminder on the heels of the Supreme Court decisions, as if we needed one, that retaliation cases carry great weight with juries. Here, the jury award was more than $4.5 million, with $3.5 of that being punitive damages.

In fact there are a lot of interesting aspects to this case that can be gleaned just from this short story:
  • The plaintiff, Malvina Monteiro, a Cape Verdean, was one of four women who filed discrimination complaints against the City of Cambridge. The initial claim was filed in September, 1998. She resigned in September 2003 after the City told her they intended to fire her.
  • In a 2005 trial, Monteiro lost her discrimination claim but the jury deadlocked on the retaliation claim.
  • The final action that led to her termination was a violation of a City policy because she took daytime classes at Tufts University before she filed her complaint of discrimination. The City said it first learned of that violation when she gave her deposition in the discrimination complaint.
  • Monteiro was quoted after the trial as saying she had a million thoughts (irony intended?), but one stood out the most: "I got my dignity back."
  • The spokesperson for the City after the trial was the City Manager, also the individual alledly responsibile for the retaliation.

Lots of lessons that can be learned from just those few nuggets.

Kudos to James Vaznis who wrote the article for getting this small, but critical point correct:

Judge Bonnie H. MacLeod-Mancuso has not yet ruled on the verdict and its dollar amounts. (emphasis added)

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