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Archive for November, 2015

Bennett & Belfort Prevails on Summary Judgment in Federal Age Bias Ruling

Posted on: November 27th, 2015 by admin

In a published opinion by Massachusetts United States District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns, Bennett & Belfort partner Eric LeBlanc successfully defeated Defendant’s motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims of age discrimination under M.G.L.c. 151B and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

wwa_Eric

In Seifaee, the 61-year-old Plaintiff was terminated as part of a reduction in force, along with 13 other employees – all over the age of 55Seifaee v. Areva, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152356 (D. Mass. Nov. 10, 2015).  Plaintiff brought federal and state law claims alleging discrimination based on disparate treatment and disparate impact as a result of his age, as well as claims of unlawful interference arising from Defendant’s alleged misconduct.

In denying Defendant’s motion, the Court indicated that the age related statistical evidence presented by Plaintiff may well be sufficient by itself to permit a finding in plaintiff’s favor. In relevant part, the Court stated:

“At the end of the day, however, the mere fact alone that a supposedly objective process could look across a company at 136 employees and happen by chance to select an entire cohort of persons aged 55 or older for termination, while possible, seems statistically improbable (as Seifaee’s expert contends) and that alone might justify a verdict in Seifaee’s favor…The credibility of Seifaee’s statistical evidence is a question for the jury.” Id. at 13-12.

Further, the Court found that the age-related disparate impact claims are actionable under M.G.L.c. 151B, despite earlier First Circuit case law that brought this into question.  Specifically, the Court acknowledged that Mullin v. Raytheon Co., 154 F.3d 696 (1st Cir. 1999) no longer controls, stating “[i]n Mullin, the First Circuit offered the prediction that ‘the SJC likely will look to [its and other] federal courts’ interpretation of the ADEA and hold that an age discrimination claim cannot be grounded solely on a theory of disparate impact.’ It turned out that the First Circuit was wrong in its fundamental premise…As the Massachusetts Appeals Court has since followed Smith’s lead (citations omitted), I have no reason to believe that the SJC would do differently.” Id. at 13.

This case will now proceed to a jury trial.

Congratulations to Dr. Seifaee and Mr. LeBlanc for this excellent result.

District-Massachusetts

B&B Attorneys Secure Win in Federal Court Jury Trial Involving Pizza Delivery Tips

Posted on: November 20th, 2015 by admin

On October 23, 2015, B&B partners, Eric LeBlanc and Todd Bennett, obtained a favorable jury verdict for their client in the United States Federal District Court in Boston.  Mr. Bennett and Mr. LeBlanc represented PMLRA Pizza, Inc. (“PMLRA”), a franchisee of Domino’s Pizza, and Henry Askew (individually), the President of PMLRA Pizza, Inc.

At issue in the case, was:

a)      Whether or not delivery charges are “Service Charges” under the Massachusetts Tips Act,

and

b)   Whether a reasonable customer would be aware that a delivery charge was not a gratuity.

The case was brought by a former PMLRA food delivery driver, seeking compensation under the Massachusetts Tips Act and the Massachusetts minimum wage statute.

As to the issue of whether delivery charges were “service charges” under the Tips Act, PMLRA argued that the evidence showed that that these charges were not service charges under the law but, instead were used to address rising operational costs, versus payment for the actual service of delivery.

The case was tried over the course of one week before Hon. Judge William G. Young, and the jury returned its verdict in favor of PMLRA.

Congratulations to Mr. LeBlanc and Mr. Bennett for a hard fought federal court trial victory.

 

Pizza