News + Insights from the Legal Team at Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein

fourth-circuit-court

By Julia Gaffney, law student intern

Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals who experience gender dysphoria can be protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.  

Kesha Williams, a transgender woman with gender dysphoria, was incarcerated for six months in Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Although she was originally assigned to be housed with female inmates, when the prison officials found that Ms. Williams is transgender they moved her to the male housing section. They also refused to provide Ms. Williams with her medical hormone treatment, which she had been taking for fifteen years to treat her gender dysphoria, intentionally misgendered her, and physically harassed her. When she was released, Ms. Williams filed a § 1983 action against the Sheriff of Fairfax County, a prison deputy, and a prison nurse alleging ADA violations, constitutional violations, and state law violations. The district court dismissed Williams’ claims under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act holding that gender dysphoria does not constitute a disability under those statutes. The district court dismissed her complaints for failure to state grounds for relief and for statute of limitations reasons. 

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Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP is proud to announce that Attorneys Inga Bernstein, David Duncan, Emma Quinn-Judge, Monica Shah, Naomi Shatz, Rachel Stroup, David Russcol, Ana Munoz, Norman Zalkind, and Ruth O’Meara-Costello are listed in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. They were recognized for their work in Criminal Defense: General Practice, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, Employment Law – Individuals, Education Law, Appellate Practice, and Litigation – Labor and Employment. 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 attorneys recognized for their hard work and incredible achievements! 

 

 

capitol-building-415839_1920The majority of adolescents in Massachusetts, at some point, engage in behaviors that could subject them to delinquency proceedings in Juvenile Court. Although most of those adolescents are unlikely to engage in that type of behavior more than once or twice, even those who are otherwise not at risk for reoffending are significantly more likely to reoffend once they are arrested, charged, and processed in juvenile court.

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David-Russcol-scaled-e1658411941856Earlier this week, a federal judge largely denied the defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment in a case alleging that a nonprofit operating group homes on Cape Cod coerced our client into working long hours for no cash wages for nearly two years, and allowed her to be sexually harassed by her supervisor. David Russcol convinced the court that issues such as whether our client is exempt from the state minimum wage law and whether she was subjected to unlawful retaliation rest on factual determinations that must be made by a jury.

ZALKIND DUNCAN & BERNSTEIN LLP is hiring an associate to join our premier Boston criminal defense and civil litigation boutique. This progressive 13-lawyer law firm has a dynamic federal and state court practice, at both the trial and appellate levels. Our criminal defense practice includes crimes of violence, fraud and drug offenses, white collar crimes, and other felonies and misdemeanors. Our civil practice consists primarily of plaintiff-side employment matters (mostly discrimination cases), and representing students, faculty, and other employees accused of misconduct or facing discrimination at colleges and universities (including in Title IX proceedings). We also have a general civil litigation and complex motions practice.

We are looking for an associate with 1-2 years of experience and excellent research, analytical, and writing skills. Judicial clerkship a plus. Competitive benefits. Associates must be available for court, depositions, and other in-person proceedings in the Greater Boston area. Associates currently work in the office at least two days per week and may otherwise work remotely where that is compatible with the needs of a case. More information about our firm can be found on our website: http://www.zalkindlaw.com.

Interested applicants should email their resume, law school transcript, writing sample (preferably 5-10 pages long, showing writing that has not been substantially edited or revised by anyone other than the author), to resume@zalkindlaw.com with “Application for associate position” in the subject line. Start date flexible. Applicants should include their available start dates in their cover letters. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

concepcion

In Concepcion v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court continued its support for sentencing discretion for district court judges. In this case, the issue was how much discretion a sentencing judge has when resentencing a defendant pursuant to the First Step Act, a substantial criminal justice reform act that Congress passed in 2018. Among its provisions is one allowing for resentencing of persons convicted before 2010 for distribution of crack cocaine who had been ineligible for resentencing when Congress in 2010 revised downward the penalties for crack cocaine (in the so-called Fair Sentencing Act). The quantities that triggered mandatory minimum sentences were reduced substantially, and the guidelines were amended to reflect those reductions. 

Mr. Concepcion had been given a 19-year sentence in 2009 for selling 13.8 grams of crack. Because he was a “career offender,” meaning that he had a number of prior convictions for “crimes of violence” or drug distribution, his guideline sentencing range was not affected by the quantity reductions, and so he was not eligible for resentencing when the crack sentencing changes took effect in 2010.  CONTINUE READING ›

https://www.bostonlawyerblog.com/files/2022/06/Screen-Shot-2022-06-19-at-9.10.07-PM.pngUnder longstanding case law in Massachusetts and the First Circuit, a court must interpret a student handbook or other school policy consistent with the “reasonable expectations” of a student reading it. If the school fails to follow its established policies, the student may be able to hold it accountable through a suit for breach of contract. But what happens when the school’s policies contain inconsistent or ambiguous provisions? In Sonoiki v. Harvard University, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that a student’s claims should be allowed to proceed where the student’s interpretation of the policies was reasonably supported in the policies’ text – even if that interpretation contradicted other parts of the policies. CONTINUE READING ›

Uber-EatsThe SJC struck an initiative from November’s ballot that, if approved, would have created a new class of “app-based driver” not subject to many bedrock employment laws. In Koussa v. Attorney General, the Court held that the proposed initiative raised too many different policy questions, and, thus, did not meet constitutional requirements for petitions. Because Massachusetts law only allows ballot initiatives that present voters with “related” and “mutually dependent” issues, the Court held that the Attorney General should not have allowed the initiative onto the ballot. CONTINUE READING ›

School-Uniform-SkirtsThis week, the Fourth Circuit court of appeals, sitting en banc (meaning all of the judges of the court together), held that a charter school’s dress code that requires girls to wear skirts violates their constitutional right to equal protection. The Court also reasoned that the dress code likely violates their rights under Title IX to be free from gender-based discrimination at school. The opinion was a resounding victory for students’ civil rights and for women’s rights. CONTINUE READING ›

Boston-PDIn a resounding victory for civil liberties, in January the First Circuit overturned an immigration court’s denial of Cristian Josue Diaz Ortiz’s claims for asylum, finding that the Boston Police Department’s (BPD) Gang Assessment Database (on which the immigration court’s decision relied) is a “flawed” system that relies on “an erratic point system built on unsubstantiated inferences.” The First Circuit’s criticism of the Gang Assessment Database could have broader implications for people challenging law enforcement decisions made based on their inclusion in that database. CONTINUE READING ›

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