Monteiro v. City of Cambridge: Massachusetts Race Discrimination Verdict Upheld

A state appeals court has upheld a $4.5 million jury verdict in a Massachusetts employment discrimination case against the Cambridge city manager, according to the Boston Globe.

Race discrimination in Boston continues to impact far too many employees in the workplace. Our Boston employment attorneys note the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports a significant increase in the number of race-based discrimination complaints, from 26,740 in 2005 to 35,890 last year.

Employees are also protected from discrimination based on religion, gender, military service and pregnancy status. Laws against aged-based discrimination are also in place and aim to prevent discrimination against older workers. The EEOC handled more than 23,000 age-based discrimination cases in 2010, up from 16,000 cases in 2006. Those cases resulted in nearly $100 million in monetary benefits for victims.

More than 3,300 settlements were reached in 2010 in race-based discrimination cases. Including jury verdicts and other awards, more than $84 million was paid as a result of race-based discrimination in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
In this case, Monteiro v. City of Cambridge, more than $4.5 million was awarded to the woman after she alleged that the city manager and other city officials punished her for complaining to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in 1998. She had been executive director of the city’s Police Review and Advisory Committee until resigning in 2003 after being informed that the city planned to fire her.

The victim has returned to her homeland of Cape Verde. Total cost of the case, include interest and attorney’s fees, is estimated at nearly $10 million. The mayor and other city leaders are expected to be called back from summer break to meet in executive session regarding the verdict.

In the latest opinion, the appeals court affirmed a 2009 ruling in Middlesex Superior Court, rejecting arguments by the city, which claimed the trial court had erred on a number of issues. The court ruled the city should have avoided interest charges over the years by making payments.

The woman was hired by the city in 1999 to oversee civilian oversight of the police department. She joined three other minority women in claiming they were not treated like white colleagues and were not given the same opportunities. In 2008, a jury awarded her $3.5 million in punitive damages. The judge in the case had strong words for City Manager Robert Healy.

Healy remains on the job as the highest paid city manager in the state, with a salary of $330,000, according to the Globe.

Supervisors and employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free of discrimination. An employer should have a reporting process known and understood by employees. And employees should not fear reporting violations to superiors. There should also be a system in place that allows an employee to report the discriminatory behavior of an immediate supervisor.

A Boston business law and employment law firm, The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. The firm has several pending discrimination cases and recently won a final determination of discrimination for a client at the EEOC. For a free and confidential consultation, call 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.

Additional Resources:
Court Upholds Race Bias Verdict, by Meghan Irons, The Boston Globe.

Boston Bar Assosiation