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Boston Jury Awards $11M to Public Servant for Race Discrimination

Boston jury awarded a nearly $11 million verdict on October 23, 2015, to Chantal Charles, a black woman and longtime public servant, on her race discrimination and retaliation case against the City of Boston and the City’s First Assistant Collector-Treasurer Vivian Leo.

Charles is an outstanding employee who has worked in the City’s Treasury Department for nearly three decades. During that time, she has been actively involved with the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust, which provides funding to diverse community groups around the City to help beautify their neighborhoods.

Despite her excellent performance, Charles has never been promoted to upper level management. The Treasury Department generally has failed to promote black employees to higher level management positions, and is one of the least racially diverse departments in the City with one of the highest pay gaps between white and non-white employees.” After Charles’ longtime supervisor left his position, Charles continued to experience discrimination and was passed over for promotion to his position twice.

The jury found that the City and Leo engaged in a consistently enforced pattern and practice of discrimination against black employees. The jury also found that the City and Leo retaliated against Charles for filing a charge of discrimination at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

The jury awarded Charles $388,159.83 in economic damages, $500,000.00 for emotional distress, and $10,000,000.00 in punitive damages. The scope of the punitive damages award shows that the jury found the City and Ms. Leo’s conduct was outrageous and egregious.

Charles was represented at trial by Emma Quinn-Judge and Monica Shah, both of the law firm Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP.

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