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Court Cases in the News

A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.

Select your state from the map below or from this list. (If your state does not have any court cases, then the page will not scroll down when you click on the state.)


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Massachusetts

Market Basket Shows Power Of Organized Labor Without Unions

Source: Curt Nickisch, WBUR
Date: September 3, 2014

"This company never needed, or ever will need, a union," said operations supervisor Joe Schmidt outside Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury. "We're far stronger than that."

Macy's Workers Win Labor Ruling

Source: Melanie Trottman, The Wall Street Journal
Date: July 23, 2014

A group of 41 cosmetics and fragrances workers at a Macy's Inc. store in Massachusetts is large enough to attempt to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board decided in a ruling that could advance organized labor's quest to unionize subsets of workers in varied industries.

Act Teleconferencing to Pay $40,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Law Suit

Source: Press Release, EEOC
Date: May 25, 2011

ACT Teleconferencing Services, a Colorado-based provider of audio, web, and video conferencing services to companies in the United States and abroad, will pay $40,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

US appeals court reverses decision on skycap tips

Source: AP, Forbes
Date: May 23, 2011

A federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that awarded more than $333,000 to nine skycaps at Boston's Logan International Airport who claimed they were cheated out of tips when American Airlines started charging curbside baggage fees.

Boston Skycap Suit Goes National After Ruling

Source: AP, Washington Post
Date: February 8, 2010

Skycaps across the country who claim they lost tips after American Airlines imposed $2 curbside baggage fees can now join a Boston lawsuit.

Mass. factory raided last year settles worker suit

Source: Associated Press, WTEN
Date: November 20, 2008

The former owners of a New Bedford leather goods factory raided last year by immigration agents will pay $850,000 to workers -- including illegal immigrants -- to settle a lawsuit claiming the company violated wage laws. The employees claimed they were forced to work overtime without pay and had their wages docked when they were late clocking in.

Harvard Medical School Prof. Gender Bias Lawsuit Moves Forward

Source: June Q. Wu, Harvard Crimson
Date: September 18, 2008

After years of allegedly suffering sexist treatment at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School professor Carol A. Warfield may finally have something to smile about. Warfield, who filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the hospital's CEO and Chief of Surgery last March, received notice last Friday that the defendants' motions to move the case to arbitration have been denied by the Suffolk Superior Court. Barring a settlement, the case will now go to a trial by jury.

Mass. smoker sues over firing

Source: Sacha Pfeiffer, Boston Globe
Date: November 29, 2006

A man has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the company which fired him after a drug test showed nicotine in his urine, putting him in violation of a company policy forbidding employees to smoke on or off the job. The suit filed is believed to be the first in the state brought by an employee who was terminated for engaging in legal activities away from the workplace.

Nurse alleges antigay bias

Source: Kathy McCabe, Brenda J. Buote, Boston Globe
Date: August 17, 2006

A nurse has slapped her bosses with a federal lawsuit, charging that hospital administrators denied her spouse healthcare coverage because of the couple's sexual orientation. Maria Ciulla, a registered nurse, [married her partner] and called [the] administrator of the hospital's health insurance plan, to find out whether [they] covered same-sex spouses. The answer was yes, so Ciulla went to the hospital's human resources department to fill out the required paperwork. [She] was told, "We don't cover same sex spouses."

Ex-Liberty Mutual agent gets $1.3m in disability bias suit

Source: Diane E. Lewis, Boston Globe
Date: May 10, 2006

A federal jury has awarded $1.3 million to a veteran insurance agent with bipolar disorder who alleged he was fired as a result of his disability. The jury awarded Kevin W. Tobin, 60, $500,000 in emotional distress damages, $439,315 in lost wages, and $416,664 in lost pension and retirement benefits caused by his termination by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. in January 2001. Tobin said he was heartened by the verdict, but it could not undo the emotional trauma he experienced following his termination after 37 years with the firm.

Jury to hear case of company accused of pregnancy discrimination

Source: Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press, Boston Globe
Date: July 24, 2005

Cynthia Papageorge claims she was fired because of her pregnancy. Her former employer? A maternity clothing retailer. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in Papageorge's discrimination suit against Mothers Work Inc., a Philadelphia-based company with more than 1,100 stores. Papageorge was approaching her due date when [a] company vice president, Frank Mullay, made a surprise inspection. She claims Mullay questioned whether she was capable of doing her job in her "condition" and in her "state." Days later, Mullay allegedly directed Papageorge's supervisor to fire her.

Lawsuits charge fraud in cleaning business

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: July 13, 2005

Joao Padilha had been saving money from his work as a restaurant deliveryman outside Boston when he heard a tantalizing offer to buy a cleaning franchise. Marcos Martins, a Brazilian immigrant like Mr. Padilha, was looking to go into business. A dozen franchisees, including Mr. Padilha and Mr. Martins, are suing Coverall [Cleaning Concepts], charging it with fraud, breach of contract and failing to pay the minimum wage. They assert that the company took out improperly large commissions and did not have enough customers to supply franchisees. Coverall's general counsel said that her company had done nothing wrong and that the service employees union had stirred up janitors against it.

Man wins age-bias lawsuit

Source: Kimberly Blanton, Boston Globe
Date: November 3, 2004

In age-discrimination lawsuits, the ignorance of top executives about what subordinates are doing--or not doing--is no longer an adequate defense. A federal court awarded $827,000 to a former branch manager at Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. John Cariglia was 62 when top executives fired him for poor performance. But US District Court in Boston ruled last week that his immediate supervisor, James Heard, who made discriminatory remarks about Cariglia's age, did not provide an accurate picture of Cariglia's performance to his own superiors. The decision was significant because it effectively held Hertz liable for what top executives did not know, strengthening the tenet employers are responsible for what takes place in the workplace.

Court says e-mail insufficient as employee notification tool

Source: Javad Heydary, E-Commerce Times
Date: October 7, 2004

Many companies use mass e-mails and/or posting to their intranet to inform employees of a host of things, including changes to their employee benefit plans. A case in point is a recent decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, in which the court addressed the question of whether an employer can use e-mail to notify an employee of a new and mandatory employment policy. The court found that a mass e-mail alone was not enough to ensure a high level of notice and to communicate the significance of a new employment policy.

SJC Overturns Employers' Right to Jury Trial in Discrimination Cases

Source: Denise Lavoie (AP), Boston Globe
Date: May 6, 2004

Employers will no longer have the right to a jury trial on discrimination complaints filed by employees, under a ruling Thursday by the state's highest court. The Supreme Judicial Court overturned its own 1997 ruling, which gave employers the right to request a jury trial if the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled against them on an employee complaint. The SJC found that while employees have the right to have their complaint heard by the MCAD or by a Superior Court jury, the employers cannot take the case to court after they have had an unfavorable ruling from the commission.

Quincy Cop Wins $300K in Lawsuit Claiming Retaliation

Source: Christopher Walker, Patriot Ledger (MA)
Date: April 22, 2004

A federal jury awarded $300,000 to a Quincy police lieutenant who says he was stripped of his authority and labeled crazy for helping expose sexual harassment in the police department. After deliberating for less than two hours yesterday, a U.S. District Court jury decided that the city violated the civil rights of Lt. John McDonough by punishing him for supporting harassment claims made by a female officer several years ago. After the verdict was read, an emotional McDonough hugged family members and friends, while city lawyers and police officials stood stunned in the courtroom.

Tech Co. Settles Age Discrimination Suits

Source: Associated Press, The Boston Channel
Date: March 19, 2004

A Billerica, Mass., technology company that laid off thousands of Massachusetts workers has released some former employees from a promise not to file age discrimination complaints, under terms of a settlement announced Thursday. The settlement, involving Bull HN, Attorney General Thomas Reilly's office, and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was called the final chapter in a long series of court actions taken against Bull HN, the subsidiary of a French company, which has let go of 3,500 workers in the state. The settlement, announced Thursday by Reilly's office, resolves a 1997 lawsuit that alleged the company illegally forced older employees to sign away their rights to pursue age discrimination cases.

Harvard Library Worker Claims Race, Gender Discrimination

Source: Associated Press, Portsmouth Herald
Date: September 20, 2003

A Harvard University library worker has sued the university claiming race and gender discrimination, even though her claims have been dismissed already by state and federal anti-discrimination agencies. Desiree Goodwin, 38, who is black, claims in her lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court that less experienced and less qualified white men and women were promoted instead of her in part because a female supervisor saw her as a "pretty girl" whose clothes were too "sexy."

Boston Ordered to Hire White Firefighters

Source: Associated Press, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Date: August 26, 2003

Four white men passed over for firefighting jobs in favor of minority candidates who scored lower on civil service tests must be hired as soon as possible, a federal judge has ruled. The men had sued the Boston Fire Department for discrimination. They must also be awarded back pay and seniority they would have earned since October 2000, the date they were denied employment, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns ordered Monday. A fifth plaintiff who was hired last October also will get a pay raise under the ruling.

Judge Rules Against Teachers Fighting Fluency Rule

Source: The Boston Channel
Date: August 8, 2003

A judge ruled against four Cambodian-born Lowell public school teachers who are trying to keep their jobs after failing a state-required English fluency test, rejecting their claim they were being discriminated against because of their ethnic backgrounds. The teachers are trying to block the Lowell public schools from using the exam results as grounds for firing them. The exam is required by a new law, passed by voters last November, that eliminates most bilingual education classes and requires schools to prove their teachers' English proficiency by Aug. 15.

Disabled Workers are Casualties of Downsizing

Source: Joseph Pereira (Wall Street Journal), Sun-Sentinel (FL)
Date: July 20, 2003

As it was preparing the sale of its assets to Bank One Corp. last July, Polaroid Corp. sent a letter to 180 disabled employees notifying them that they had been fired and their health, life and dental insurance were being terminated. At the time he received the letter, Nelson Tauriac, a Polaroid forklift operator for 21 years, was bed-ridden, his feet swollen to three times their normal size because of kidney disease. John Magenheimer, who had headed a Polaroid research laboratory, was recovering from surgery in which one of his ribs was removed so doctors could cut out a cancerous tumor pressing against his heart. Elizabeth Williams, a senior human-resources administrator, was at home, doubled over with pain from a form of lupus that attacks the lungs and muscles. Across the corporate landscape, disabled workers are becoming an increasingly common casualty of the drive to cut costs.

Jury Awards $624,000 for Harassment

Source: Kimberly Blanton, Boston Globe
Date: July 15, 2003

In a rare jury award for sexual harassment in the workplace, a Suffolk County correction officer was awarded about $624,000 after jurors found that he was harassed because he is gay. Michael Salvi's car was vandalized twice while parked on the street as he worked, and then he received children's alphabet blocks -- glued together to spell ''fag'' -- hand-delivered to his front porch, according to the complaint. Jurors, sitting in Suffolk Superior Court, found that Salvi, who had not disclosed his sexual orientation at work, was being harassed by co-workers circulating rumors about him, said his lawyer, Robert Berluti.

Five Ex-Employees Sue Polaroid

Source: Associated Press, FindLaw Legal News
Date: July 9, 2003

Five former Polaroid employees have sued the company, its bankrupt estate and its new parent, claiming their rights were violated when the company cut off their long-term disability benefits last year. The suit, filed Monday in Boston federal court, claims Polaroid violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act after the July 2002 sale of the company to One Equity Partners, a unit of Chicago-based Bank One Corp. The company sent a letter telling about 180 employees receiving long-term disability, and 70 surviving spouses, that they would no longer be considered employees.

SJC Opens Inquiry Into Municipal Court

Source: Andrea Estes, Boston Globe
Date: July 8, 2003

The Supreme Judicial Court is investigating allegations of wrongdoing by top officials at Boston Municipal Court, including charges that court officials ignored complaints of sexual harassment. The SJC has hired a Boston law firm to look into allegations that Michael Coleman, the Municipal Court clerk magistrate for civil business, and his subordinates have ignored and tolerated sexual harassment and other misconduct. The investigation was triggered by a court employee who alleges that Coleman discounted her complaint when she told him that a co-worker had molested her.

Maternity Chain Sued Over Pregnancy Policy

Source: Andrea Estes, Boston Globe
Date: June 26, 2003

Cynthia Papageorge loved her job as a district manager at Mothers Work Inc., a maternity clothes retailer. She planned to spend the rest of her career working for the company until a life-altering event: She became pregnant. As a result, she said, she was belittled and demeaned, made to feel ugly during the weeks just before she delivered, and finally fired.




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