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Today the Massachusetts Appeals Court vindicated Chantal Charles, a black woman and longtime public servant, who had won a nearly $11 million verdict in 2015 in her race discrimination and retaliation case against the City of Boston and the City’s First Assistant Collector-Treasurer Vivian Leo. The Appeals Court issued a unanimous 45-page decision affirming the jury’s verdict that the City and Ms. Leo discriminated and retaliated against Ms. Charles and granted Ms. Charles’ appeal of the trial court’s decision to reduce the punitive damages verdict.

Ms. Charles is an outstanding employee who has worked in the City’s Treasury Department for thirty-three years, managing the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust and other trusts, and has dedicated her career to beautifying and improving the city’s parks and neighborhoods. Despite her excellent performance, Ms. Charles has never been promoted. The Treasury Division generally has failed to promote black employees to higher level management positions and is one of the least racially diverse departments in the City with one of the highest pay gaps between white and non-white employees. Ms. Charles’ longtime supervisor left his position after Ms. Leo called Ms. Charles “aloof, non-deferential, and uppity” and insisted that he give her a poor performance review, which he refused to do because it was unwarranted. Following his departure, Ms. Charles continued to experience discrimination and was passed over for promotion to his position twice.

After hearing the evidence at trial, the jury found that the City and Ms. Leo engaged in a “consistently enforced pattern and practice of discrimination” against black employees. The jury also found that the City and Ms. Leo retaliated against Ms. Charles for filing a charge of discrimination at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

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On August 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit released a decision that ca1strengthens the due process requirements applicable to discipline at state universities, but does not go as far as other courts such as the Sixth Circuit, which has forcefully affirmed a due process right to cross-examination on issues of credibility. In Haidak v. University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the First Circuit largely found the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) procedures adequate as they were applied in the specific case before it, but adopted a requirement for some form of real-time cross-examination sufficient to address the key facts and issues in a student’s case. The court also emphasized the need for a state college to provide a student with due process for even an interim suspension – and only in the case of a real emergency can that process occur after the suspension. 

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On March 25, 2019, Monica Shah presented a session on criminal law and students’ rights at the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston’s award-winning “Know Your Rights!” program at the Waltham Public Library.  Through this program, SABA GB empowers South Asian community leaders in Massachusetts on topics ranging from criminal law to employment law, bankruptcy, consumer protection, immigration, and elder care. Learn more about SABA GB and the KYR program here: https://www.sabagb.org/know-your-rights

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Monica Shah, a partner at Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP, will be joining the faculty as Chair of the MCLE webcast and on-site program, “Preventing & Handling Sexual Harassment Claims in the #MeToo Era” scheduled for March 19, 2019. The program will focus on providing guidance for attorneys handling sexual harassment cases from initial intake or investigation to verdict or settlement, whether at the MCAD or in court. Attorney Shah has extensive experience working on sexual harassment cases. Read more or register for the program here. 

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Emma Quinn-Judge and Monica Shah recently won an employment discrimination appeal at the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The Appeals Court agreed with Attorneys Quinn-Judge and Shah that their client’s pay discrimination claim should not have been dismissed by the lower court after the defendant, the City of Boston, moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff presented evidence that the City had refused to provide a promised raise to the plaintiff, an African-American woman and a longtime public servant, after she spent nearly three years in her promoted position with substantially greater responsibilities, while at the same giving raises to another white manager.  As a result of this decision, their client will now be able to take her pay discrimination claim to trial.

Read the opinion here: Flint vs. City Of Boston & another

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Top Women of Law honorees, including Zalkind Law’s Monica Shah, author letter to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (MLW) objecting the choice of a non-union Marriott hotel for tonight’s event. These attorneys urge MLW to sign the “One Job Should Be Enough Pledge” in support of hotel workers, especially those who are currently participating in union strikes across the country. Read the letter below.

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Coffee-Meet-UpLabor Day Weekend is upon us and millions of college students across the country will be beginning their fall terms, including many first-year students who have just become adults and have spent little time away from their families or communities. If you are a parent of an incoming student, you may be helping your child pack, stock up on ramen, move into their dorm, and get oriented to a sprawling and likely overwhelming college campus. While you are preparing your child for a new stage of their life and hopefully independence and responsibility, this is the time to familiarize yourself with the college’s policies on sexual assault, harassment, and other misconduct. While the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is working on passing new regulations related to sexual misconduct on campus (for a summary see one of our lawyer’s comments here)no formal changes have taken effect to date and therefore it is important to ensure that your child is aware of their school’s specific rules and knows their rights and responsibilities, as well as the risks of any criminal exposure that may arise from sexual behavior.  Continue reading

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Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP is proud to announce that firm partners Norman Zalkind, David Duncan, Inga Bernstein, Emma Quinn-Judge, and Monica Shah, and of-counsel attorneys Elizabeth Lunt and Harvey Silverglate are listed in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession and rates attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. Congratulations to all!

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Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly has chosen Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP partner Monica Shah as a Top Women in Law honoree.  The award celebrates outstanding achievements made by exceptional women lawyers who have made tremendous professional strides and demonstrated great accomplishments in the legal field and highlights women who are pioneers, educators, trailblazers, and role models.  On October 18, 2018, Monica and her fellow honorees will be recognized at the 2018 Top Women in Law event in Boston.Shah-headshot

Monica focuses her litigation practice on criminal defense, employment law, and Title IX matters.  She has successfully handled complicated and highly-contested cases from the initial stages of investigation and discovery through trial and appeals, including winning a nearly $10.9 million jury verdict on behalf of her client in a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the City of Boston.  In her criminal practice, she on the federal Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel to represent indigent federal defendants in the Boston federal district courts

Outside her firm work, Monica also commits to pro bono work for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston, and she co-chairs the Amicus Committee for the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association. She also serves as chairperson of the nominating committee and a member of the Board of Directors of Cradles to Crayons, a Boston-based organization that provides essential clothing, books, and toys for low-income children.

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