Articles Posted in Recent News

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Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP is proud to announce that the firm has been named in US News’ “Best Law Firms” for yet another year! This 2020 accolade ranks the firm as Metro Tier 1 in three separate categories: Criminal Defense – General Practice, Criminal Defense – White Collar, and Employment – Individuals.

Firms included in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.

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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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As a top-rated attorney in the state, Partner Inga Bernstein has been recognized by the Super Lawyers list since 2004. This year, she was selected for both the prestigious Top 50 Women Lawyers and the Top 100 Lawyers in Massachusetts Lists. Read Inga’s bio here to learn more about her practice. To view the Top 50 list, click here. To view the Top 100 list, click here.

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We are pleased to announce that six of our attorneys have been selected to the 2019 Massachusetts Super Lawyers List. We would also like to congratulate four of our attorneys for being selected to the 2019 Massachusetts Rising Stars list.

Super Lawyers rates outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. Only up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to the Super Lawyers list, and no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.

Please join us in congratulating the following attorneys who have been selected as “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars” this year.

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RusscolZalkind Law’s David Russcol submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in Parker v. Enernoc, Inc., a case heard last week in the Supreme Judicial Court. The plaintiff was fired soon after closing the largest sale in her employer’s history, which the jury found was in retaliation for complaining of violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act. Some of the commissions on that sale were not due until a year later. The Wage Act provides that “lost wages and other benefits” due to retaliation are tripled, but the lower court did not triple those unpaid commissions. David argued on behalf of the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association, Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and Fair Employment Project that employers cannot avoid paying commissions by firing employees before the commissions are due, and that the plaintiff’s unpaid wages had to be tripled in order to avoid giving employers an incentive to engage in illegal retaliation.

Read the brief here: Amicus Brief – Parker v. Enernoc, Inc

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ShatzAttorney Naomi Shatz argued today before the Massachusetts Appeals Court in a case that again addresses a question the Massachusetts courts have grappled with for years: what types of speech can form the basis of a harassment prevention order? In the firm’s case, the plaintiff sought a harassment prevention order on the basis of anonymous letters sent to her clients that contained unfavorable information about her. Shatz argued on behalf of her client that the extraordinary remedy of a harassment prevention order is meant only to reach two narrow types of constitutionally unprotected speech: fighting words and true threats, and is not meant to be used to address purely economic harms that can be remedied through normal civil legal processes.

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Bernstein-headshot-horizontalPartner Inga Bernstein argued today before the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit about an important issue regarding the Career Offender provision of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines that has divided the federal courts of appeal and is actively being litigated in several circuits. Specifically, she argued that the crime of conspiracy to commit a drug offense does not trigger the Career Offender provision, notwithstanding interpretive commentary from the Sentencing Commission that says otherwise because the language of the Guideline is unambiguous and does not includes such crimes.  Rejection of the commentary in this instance is dictated by the Supreme Court’s June decision in Kisor v. Wilkie, which set clear limits on the deference that can be afforded to agencies interpreting their regulations.  A decision in this case will have far reaching ramifications for many people impacted by the career offender guideline.

The audio recording of the oral argument can be heard here.

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On Friday, David Russcol and Rachel Stroup filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that Tufts University retaliated against their client, a graduate student who blew the whistle on research fraud in her laboratory, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health. As the complaint alleges: “After Dr. Meadows reported this issue to Tufts, she faced severe and ongoing retaliation, including a delay in her progression through her Ph.D. program; interference with her research at the university; and severe damage to her reputation, including false accusations of theft.” The complaint alleges that in retaliating against her for reporting research misconduct related to a federal grant, Tufts violated the False Claims Act (which protects individuals who report on entities defrauding the government), the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, and various common-law claims including invasion of privacy and defamation. The full complaint can be read here.

Press coverage:

PhD veterinary graduate files $1 million lawsuit against Tufts University because she’s been ‘unable to get a job after reporting her department for faking research and animal abuse’ – Daily Mail

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Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP is proud to announce that Attorneys Norman Zalkind, David Duncan, Inga Bernstein, Elizabeth Lunt, Harvey Silverglate, Ruth O’Meara-Costello, Emma Quinn-Judge, and Monica Shah are listed in the 2020 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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Attorneys Emma Quinn-Judge and Monica Shah win employment discrimination appeal at the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which reversed the Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment on race discrimination and retaliation claims on behalf of a Treasury employee against the City of Boston. The decision allows the firm’s client to take his failure to promote and retaliation case to trial.  This is one of three race discrimination cases the firm has involving the same department and decision-makers within the City of Boston. The firm previously won a nearly $11 million jury verdict (currently on appeal) on behalf of a second employee in the same department, and has another trial involving a third (former) employee scheduled for next spring.

Read the opinion here: Patrick Bosah vs. City of Boston & another.

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