Boston Employment Discrimination Testimonial
“Back in 1994, and I believe it was August. I was laid off by the City Boston and it wasn't so much the layoff. We were anticipating the layoff but it was the harsh, it was humiliating the way they did it and I just knew that I was not going to accept that. Well, Marc was really great. I was referred to Marc and when I walked in to the office I felt I was how can I best say it? I was I was this bankrupt mentally, physically. I was unemployed.
I had knocked on many doors. Many doors were closed on me. I didn't know where I was going to go, what I was going to do, what was out there to help me. And when I walked in and sat down and we said hello and it was just his presence, the way he questioned me, the way he listened and then finally, he says, “Well Gloria let me help you.” I could have cried.
That's all, that was the feeling. This was not Marc’s specialty, so he didn't quite know how we were going to go about it. But he knew that it was wrong, and so what he decided to do, he pulled the team together and he would call me. He had another team of lawyers that had a specialty in this area, a specialty in that area and I think in many ways he was thinking on his feet and it truly worked.
He would call me to let me know what was going on when we had many court appearances And he would call me, give me enough time to prepare. He would let me know what lawyers were on board and what their specific tasks were with work and we're moving forward. He kept me involved, whenever I thought that it was over.
A call would come from Marc, something else was happening and so he just kept me going throughout the thirteen years I have just been so impressed throughout the years with Marc and he permits me to do this. Whoever asked to me about a lawyer, I give them Marc's card because I truly believe that if Marc feels his firm it's not the right firm for a person, that he will take the time to recommend someone for that person and I think that speaks a lot for the firm."
This case lasted over 13 years and resulted in an historic ruling in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. That decision set the standard of ‘burden shifting’ in discrimination cases in Massachusetts.
The case was first tried in a five-day public hearing in 1998 in the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The MCAD commissioner found that plaintiff and the other women were subjected to ‘disparate treatment’ in the manner in which they were treated during the layoff. Accordingly, they were all awarded damages. Ms. Coney received an award of $35,000.00 plus approximately $30,000.00 for attorney’s fees and costs.
The defendant appealed the hearing officer’s findings to the full MCAD commission. In 2000, the full commission of the MCAD affirmed the hearing officer’s findings of fact and rulings of law and affirmed the award of damages.
The full commission’s ruling was appealed by the defendant to a Superior Court justice who held a trial de novo (new trial) in 2002. In 2003, the Superior Court judge reversed the findings of the MCAD Commission. The trial judge ruled that the five African-American women were not similarly situated to the while male employee, and, therefore the commission’s findings and rulings were reversed.
Plaintiffs appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which in 2005 issued a decision reversing the Superior Court judge. The Appeals Court found that that the five complainants had proven a case of discrimination based on race. Importantly, the Appeals Court also found that the complainants were entitled to an award of interest on their judgments and attorney’s fees awards.
Defendant next appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
In July 2007, the SJC affirmed the Appeals Court and the MCAD finding in favor of the plaintiff and her co-complainants and entered awards of damages.