Employment Law

Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination

We specialize in representing employees in sexual harassment and sex discrimination cases. In several notable cases, we have represented employees in their suits against Wal-Mart, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream Company, the MBTA, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Ninety-Nine Restaurants. We have sued dozens of other companies, large and small, for sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

Many of our cases settle without trial because we bring intense pressure on our corporate adversaries.  We conduct thorough investigations into company practices.  We force defendants to produce important documents and evidence.  We conduct far reaching inquiries where we interview or depose numerous witnesses. In preparing for trial in our case against Wal-Mart, for example, we interviewed over one hundred twenty-five potential witnesses.  If we cannot secure a favorable settlement, we use science-based advocacy to maximize our clients’ odds of prevailing at trial.

We are experts in establishing damages. In employment discrimination cases, damages are often awarded for back pay, front pay and emotional distress. We have relationships with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, economists and other experts who help us to establish these losses. We place particular emphasis on developing our clients’ claims for punitive damages. These damages are most often awarded to punish employers for intentional discrimination.  Wealthy corporate defendants are often vulnerable to high and unpredictable losses because juries are permitted to consider their assets and income when awarding punitive damages.  We focus on obtaining punitive damages because they often pose the greatest economic threat to defendants. We utilize state of the art techniques to maximize our clients’ claims for compensatory and punitive damages in sex discrimination and harassment cases.

In almost all of our employment discrimination cases, we represent employees on a contingency fee basis, where we only receive our attorney’s fees if we obtain a settlement or a favorable verdict at trial.  Because of our fee structure and emphasis on aggressive litigation, we are very selective in the cases that we accept for litigation.  In the sexual harassment area, we select for cases that involve egregious and outrageous behavior.  In sex discrimination cases, we select cases where we have a strong likelihood of obtaining a high award of economic damages.  Because we can only accept a limited number of cases, we work hard to select only cases in which we have confidence that we can win at trial.

In employment discrimination cases, losing employers can be forced to pay employees’ legal fees. In one recent case, we were awarded fees at our full hourly rate for every hour we worked on the case.  Court awarded fees effectively result in a reduction in our clients’ contingency fee. By meticulously keeping time records of our work, we maximize each clients’ recovery.

Campaign for Gender Equity in the Legal Profession

We are committed to eliminating sex discrimination in the legal profession. Women are strikingly underrepresented in the ranks of most of the largest law firms in Massachusetts.  Although women have long made up nearly half of law school graduates, at many of the largest firms in Massachusetts less than 25% of the equity partners are female.  Unfortunately, significant hidden barriers to the advancement of women in both pay and promotions are common at many law firms.  We are currently reaching out to female lawyers and other legal workers to challenge these practices.

Wrongful Termination and Retaliation

We have represented many employees in “wrongful termination” cases, where the employees claimed that they were fired or forced out of their jobs for illegal or discriminatory reasons. Although most of the wrongful termination cases we have handled involve sex discrimination, we have also handled cases involving discrimination based on race, age, disability, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation and religion.

In many cases, our clients have come to us after they were fired from their jobs for complaining about harassment or discrimination. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to fire or otherwise retaliate against employees for opposing discriminatory practices. Under both Massachusetts and federal law, employees generally have a right to complain about discrimination to the EEOC and the MCAD, as long as they have a good faith belief that their employer’s practice is discriminatory. The threshold for a good faith belief is low, so that almost any employee who honestly believes that he or she has been discriminated against has a right to file a complaint with the government.

We most often bring retaliation claims in combination with other claims of discrimination or harassment. In many cases, our clients report that the retaliation they experienced was much worse than the discrimination that gave rise to their initial complaint. By building a powerful case for both discrimination and retaliation, our clients’ chances of success are greatly increased. Because almost all retaliation cases involve intentional conduct, the likelihood of recovering punitive damages in these cases is high.

Communication and Settlement

In communicating with our clients, our adversaries and with the courts, we maintain the highest degree of integrity and professionalism. Good communication increases the possibility of achieving a favorable settlement without the cost, inconvenience, uncertainty and delay of a trial. In many cases, we employ professional mediators to assist our clients to communicate with their employers and to explore settlement. Although we emphasize positive communication with our adversaries, and we almost always explore the possibility of a fair settlement, neither positive communication nor a fair settlement can be achieved without the good faith participation of both parties. Some companies have a top down structure and tyrannical culture that precludes positive communication and makes obtaining a fair settlement impossible. In these cases, we use every available resource to obtain a favorable verdict at trial.