Case History

Selected Highlights

  1. City of Chelsea v. Trump. Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Chelsea and Lawrence, challenging the constitutionality of President Trump’s Executive Order targeting sanctuary cities. The suit seeks to preserve federal funding and to protect local jurisdictions’ rights to enact policies that promote public safety and confidence in local law enforcement.
  1. Amazon Class Action. Class action filed at the MCAD on behalf of African-American and Latino former Amazon drivers who were suddenly terminated based on an overly stringent background check policy, which included old and minor offenses. Such strict background check policies have a disproportionate effect on people of color.
  1. Lawyers’ Comm. for Civil Rights and Econ. Justice v. Spence. Public records lawsuit filed with the SJC to compel the Mass. Trial Court to release information on its employment practices. The Trial Court previously refused to release the records, claiming that it is exempt from the Commonwealth’s public records law.
  1. Boston Latin School Complaint. Federal civil rights complaint filed in partnership with community allies, requesting that the U.S. Attorney investigate racial harassment and discrimination at Boston Latin School. The U.S. Attorney found that Boston Latin violated federal law by failing to adequately respond to school-based racial harassment, and the City of Boston agreed to take steps to improve the racial climate at the school.
  1. Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin, 579 U.S. ____ (2016) (amicus). Amicus brief filed on behalf of prominent national empirical scholars in a case concerning the use of a race-based admissions policy at the Univ. of Texas at Austin, arguing that the “mismatch” theory espoused by affirmative action opponents is based on flawed research. The Court upheld the policy, affirming that colleges may consider race as one of many factors in admitting a diverse student body.
  1. Lawyers’ Comm. for Civil Rights and Econ. Justice v. William Evans, 16-CIV-0175 (Mass. Super. 2016). Successful lawsuit to compel the Boston Police to release public records concerning the racial impact of its employment practices. At a time of growing tension between police and communities of color, the data was the subject of intense public scrutiny concerning the lack of diversity and community representation in the police force.
  1. Doe v. Peyser, 15-CIV-2788 (Mass. Super. 2015). Intervention filed on behalf of disadvantaged students — including students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners — in support of retaining Massachusetts’ charter school cap. The court upheld the constitutionality of the charter cap, preserving vital resources for traditional public schools serving disadvantaged students.
  1. Not Measuring Up – School Discipline Report. Published a groundbreaking report analyzing Massachusetts school discipline data and finding that students of color, students with disabilities, and charter school students are disproportionately likely to be suspended, particularly for minor misbehavior, bringing national attention to disparities in school discipline rates.
  1. City of Brockton v. Energy Facilities Siting Board, 469 Mass. 196 (2014) (amicus). Filed an environmental justice amicus brief challenging the Siting Board’s decision to locate a power plant in a minority and low-income community.
  1. NAACP v. Galvin, 12-CIV-10872 (D. Mass. 2012). Challenge to the Commonwealth’s failure to offer voter registration opportunities to public assistance recipients, in violation of the National Voter Registration Act. Commonwealth agreed to policy changes and ongoing monitoring, enfranchising thousands of low-income individuals.
  1. Bonds v. City of Boston School Comm., 06-CIV-0965 (Mass. Super. 2006); 10-CIV-2180 (Mass. App. Ct. 2010). Successful employment discrimination case on behalf of African-American teacher at Boston Latin School who received less desirable teaching assignments than less-qualified white teachers.
  1. EEOC v. Autozone, Inc., 10-CIV-11648 (D. Mass. 2010). Successfully represented a Sikh employee, who was subjected to religious discrimination and a hostile work environment after Autozone refused to accommodate his religious practices.
  1. Amara v. Fairmont Copley Plaza, 09-CIV-11802 (D. Mass. 2009). Successfully represented seven Moroccan and Muslim employees of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston who faced religious and national origin discrimination.
  1. Bridges v. Commonwealth of Mass. Alcoholic Beverages Control Comm’n., 29 MDLR 85 (2007). Employment discrimination case on behalf of an African-American applicant for an investigator position at the Alcoholic Beverages Control Comm’n., who was rejected in favor of two less-qualified white applicants. MCAD awarded back pay and emotional distress damages.
  1. EEOC v. Home Depot, 05-CIV-11921 (D. Mass. 2005). Successfully represented an African-American Home Depot employee who experienced a racially hostile work environment and was wrongfully terminated after he complained.
  1. Arise for Social Justice v. City of Springfield, 05-CIV-30080 (D. Mass. 2005). Successfully challenged Springfield’s “at-large” election system, which diluted minority voting power in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
  1. Alshrafi v. American Airlines, 321 F. Supp. 2d 150 (D. Mass. 2004). Federal court ruled that the Airline Deregulation Act did not preempt a discrimination claim by an Arab-American passenger who was barred from a flight after 9/11.
  1. Black Political Task Force et al. v. Galvin, 300 F.Supp.2d 291 (D. Mass. 2004). Federal court struck down the 2001 State House redistricting plan for 17 districts serving Boston, and enjoined the Commonwealth from holding elections for those seats until the court approved a new plan. Court found that the state plan violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, resulted in “extreme” packing of the 6th Suffolk district, and improperly stripped minority voters out of the 11th and 12th Suffolk districts.
  1. Grutter Amicus Brief. Co-authored amicus brief filed by the Boston Bar Ass’n. and several leading Boston law firms in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of affirmative action in admissions to the Univ. of Michigan Law School.
  1. Comfort v. Lynn School Comm., 263 F.Supp.2d 209 (D. Mass. 2003). Filed an amicus brief, along with the NAACP, successfully defending the Lynn’s voluntary school desegregation plan against a constitutional attack.
  1. Mayor of Cambridge v. Sec. of the Commonwealth., 765 N.E.2d 749 (Mass. 2002). Filed an amicus brief with the SJC to protect several majority African-American State House districts.
  1. Established Economic Justice Project.
  1. Morris v. City of Lawrence, 01-CIV-11889 (Prelim. Injunction Nov. 5, 2001). Federal court enjoined the City of Lawrence from implementing a voter ID policy that would have discouraged Latinos from voting.
  1. Mendes v. Sullivan. Represented a Cape Verdean couple who were assaulted and had their property vandalized by white neighbors, resulting in a favorable jury verdict and a permanent injunction barring one defendant from the premises.
  1. Seaport Development Litigation. The City of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority invalidated an agreement giving the majority of “linkage” payments from waterfront developers to South Boston, which had a discriminatory impact on other more racially diverse neighborhoods.
  1. Jane Doe v. Boston Housing Auth. Class action lawsuit against the Boston Housing Authority for failing to protect families of color from chronic racially-motivated violence and harassment. After HID made its first-ever finding of “systemic discrimination,” the Housing Authority agreed to a $1.5 million settlement.
  1. Thornton v. Amtrak. Employment discrimination class action lawsuit on behalf of minority track workers resulting in a $16 million settlement and systemic changes in hiring, training, promotion, and discipline.
  1. Julks v. Neptune Towers. Successful lawsuit against a federally-subsidized housing development that maintained a pattern and practice of discrimination.
  1. Barrett v. Danca Realty World. Housing discrimination case at the MCAD resulted in a $60,000 award for emotional distress, the largest amount ever awarded at that time.
  1. Mak v. Fall River Housing Auth. Represented Cambodian tenants against the Fall River Housing Authority, which failed to protect them from racial violence and harassment. Resulted in a consent decree that provided compensation and benefits, including increased facilities for tenants and translation of Housing Authority documents.
  1. McDuffy v. Sec. of the Exec. Office of Educ., 415 Mass. 545 (1993). The SJC struck down Massachusetts’ public school financing system, which relied heavily on local property taxes and resulted in gross disparities between districts. The SJC ruled that Mass. has a duty under the state constitution to provide an adequate education for all children, regardless of the wealth of their local communities.
  1. Bennett v. City of Boston. Federal lawsuit on behalf of families challenging unlawful searches and seizures by police during the Carol Stuart murder investigation.
  1. Culbreath v. BayBanks. BayBanks agreed to an $11 million settlement in a lawsuit over its indirect home improvement financing program, which violated consumer protection and civil rights laws.
  1. Black Political Task Force v. Connelly, 679 F. Supp. 1019 (D. Mass. 1988). Federal court invalidated the State House redistricting plan based on the 1985 state census for violating the “one person, one vote” principle. First Latino state legislator elected from newly created Boston district.
  1. NAACP v. Boston Housing Auth. Federal class action lawsuit against the Boston Housing Authority for maintaining racially segregated public housing.
  1. Thong Lim v. Somerville Housing Auth. Federal class action lawsuit against the Somerville Housing Authority for its failure to protect minority tenants from racial violence and harassment.
  1. Hispanic Parents Advisory Council v. City of Lowell. School desegregation and bilingual education case against Lowell, resulting in a favorable settlement.
  1. Established Fair Housing Project.
  1. Latino Political Action Comm. v. City of Boston, 568 F. Supp. 1012 (D. Mass. 1983), stay denied, 716 F.2d 68 (1st Cir. 1983), stay denied, 463 U.S. 1319 (1983) (Latino PAC I) (“one person, one vote”); 581 F.Supp. 478 (D. Mass. 1984) (legislative immunity), 609 F. Supp. 739 (D. Mass. 1985), aff’d 784 F. 2d 409 (1st Cir. 1986) (Latino PAC II) (Voting Rights Act). Federal court invalidated Boston’s redistricting plan for violating the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote,” and rejected plaintiffs’ voting rights dilution claims under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
  1. Established Project to Combat Racial Violence.
  1. Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830 (1982). Represented several teachers at a private special education school in Brookline, who were fired after defending their students’ rights to air grievances. While the U.S. Supreme Court found no state action, more recent decision supports the arguments we made in this case.
  1. Hispanic Parents Advisory Council v. City of Holyoke, 80-CIV-172. School desegregation case against Holyoke, resulting in a favorable settlement including bilingual and special education plans.
  1. Charles Tyrone Brown v. City of Salem, 44 Mass.App. 627, 693 N.E. 2d 1026 (1998) (sub nom. City of Salem v. MCAD). Represented a minority applicant who was not hired for a police officer position in Salem despite ranking first on the civil service exam. He was awarded $229,000 in back pay and $100,000 in emotional distress damages.
  1. Latino Assn. for Progress & Action v. Worcester Public Schools. Lawsuit to compel the Worcester Public Schools to provide equal educational opportunities to children with limited English proficiency, which was settled by a consent decree.
  1. Latinos Unidos de Chelsea en Acción v. HUD, 607 F.2d 514 (1st Cir. 1979) (standing), 799 F.2d 774 (1st Cir. 1986). Challenged the disbursement of federal funds to the City of Chelsea under the 1974 Housing and Community Development Act.
  1. NAACP v. HUD. Class action lawsuit challenging the discriminatory use of HUD funds disbursed to Boston, which resulted in a favorable settlement after the court found discrimination.
  1. MAMLEO v. Boston Police Dep’t. Challenged a discriminatory civil service exam for promotions to sergeant, resulting in a consent decree that led to the first permanent Boston Police sergeants of color. The consent decree survived a challenge as “reverse discrimination” in MAMLEO v. Boston Police Dep’t., 106 F.R.D. 80 (D. Mass. 1985), aff’d, 780 F.2d 5 (1st Cir. 1985). A court upheld the consent decree’s extension to lieutenants and captains in Stuart v. Roache, 739 F. Supp. 54 (D. Mass. 1990), aff’d 951 F.2d 446 (1st Cir. 1991).
  1. Castor v. Beecher and NAACP v. Beecher. Successfully challenged discriminatory police and fire department hiring practices in various communities, including Boston. As a result of consent decrees, there are now hundreds of police officers and firefighters of color in Massachusetts.
  1. Morgan v. Hennigan, 379 F. Supp. 410 (D. Mass. 1974). Federal court ordered the Boston Public Schools to desegregate in 1974, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  1. Published “The Quality of Justice in the Lower Criminal Courts of Metropolitan Boston,” a study that helped lead to court reforms.
  1. Thirteen lawyers founded the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association. Don Belin served as the first Chair of the Lawyers’ Committee.