Practice Areas

Employment Law

Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP offers a broad range of services to individuals and employers alike. We advise and represent clients on employment issues ranging from wrongful termination, employment discrimination, retaliation, wage claims and sexual harassment to the interpretation and enforcement of employment contracts, post-employment restrictive covenants, change of control agreements, and ERISA benefit plans.

Our attorneys bring to this practice area extensive experience in litigation, representing both employers and employees before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, in state and federal courts and in arbitrations. We regularly represent amicus parties in appellate courts, addressing cutting edge issues in the field of employment law. (Among other noteworthy cases, we participated successfully at the appellate level in a landmark case that established the right to a jury trial for individuals bringing claims under a variety of Massachusetts employment statutes.) At the same time, we emphasize preventive lawyering, providing practical advice for resolving disputes, to keep them from escalating to litigation. We provide advice and training to businesses regarding their legal obligations and personnel practices; draft personnel policies and manuals; and negotiate employment and severance agreements for both individuals and companies.

Our senior employment attorneys have completed a certification course sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to conduct internal investigations and trainings on harassment and discrimination.

Noteworthy/Representative Cases

In our employment practice we regularly represent individuals who have been subjected to adverse employment action on the basis of such protected classifications as race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and/or veteran’s status. We also have a robust appellate amicus practice, addressing issues of broad importance in the enforcement of our civil rights laws. These include the following:

Psy-Ed. Corp. v. Klein, 459 Mass. 697 (2011)

Represented a number of civil rights advocacay groups as amicus parties in a case establishing that the provisions of G.L.c. 151B which prohibit retaliation and interference with a protected right extends to conduct that occurs after the employment relationship has terminated.

Joulé, Inc. v. Simmons, 459 Mass. 88 (2011)

Represented a broad coalition of civil rights groups as amicus parties in a case establishing that a mandatory arbitration agreement between an employer and an employee does not divest the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination of its statutory authority to investigate and prosecute allegations of discrimination, or to seek victim-specific relief under G.L.c. 151B.

Thurdin v. SEI Boston, Inc., 454 Mass. 436 (2008)

Represented a number of civil rights advocacy groups as amicus parties in a case establishing that G.L.c. 93, § 102, the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act, provides a right of action to redress on-the-job discrimination in cases where, due to its size, the employer is not subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of G.L.c. 151B.

Trustees of Health and Hospitals v. Coney, 449 Mass. 615 (2007)

On appeal, represented the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and five former employees, all African-American women, who had filed a Charge of Discrimination alleging that their former employer had subjected them to unlawful discrimination when it singled them out for harsh and humiliating treatment in the course of implementing a group layoff. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination had found that the employer had engaged in unlawful conduct and had issued remedial orders that required payment of emotional distress damages and attorneys’ fees. In affirming the decision of the MCAD, the Supreme Judicial Court established that an employer may be liable for unlawful discrimination arising from the manner in which it implements a layoff, and clarified the many ways in which complainants may make a prima facie case under G.L.c. 151B.

Stonehill College v. Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, 441 Mass. 549 (2004)

Represented a broad coalition of civil rights advocacy groups, as amicus parties, in a collection of cases raising issues about how G.L.c. 151B, the Commonwealth’s most comprehensive anti-discrimination statute, was properly implemented so that complainants received the full benefit of the enforcement options provided. The Court reaffirmed its holding in Dalis that, where the complainant has opted to pursue a private right of action in in court, the parties to that judicial proceeding have a right to a jury trial. Where the complainant has opted to proceed under the administrative enforcement scheme set forth in G.L.c. 151B, § 5, Court made clear that there is no constitutional obstacle to allowing the MCAD’s administrative proceedings to take its course. Overruling prior precedent, the Court found no constitutional obstacle to the statute’s administrative scheme, which empowers MCAD to issue binding remedial orders, including monetary relief, where necessary and appropriate.

Dalis v. Buyer Advertising, Inc., 418 Mass. 220 (1994)

Represented the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts as an amicus party in a case raising the question whether there was a right to a jury trial in claims arising under a variety of state anti-discrimination statutes. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court established that, under the Declaration of Rights, the right to a jury trial attaches to civil actions filed in court under G.L.c. 151B, § 9 (alleging discrimination in employment), as well as to claims arising under the Equal Pay Act, G.L.c. 149, §§ 105A-C, the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act, G.L.c. 93, § 102, and the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act, G.L.c.149, § 105D.

Diaz v. Jiten Hotel Management, Inc.

Represented a number of civil rights advocacy groups as amicus parties in a case that reaffirmed the important role of fee-shifting provisions in the enforcement of civil rights statutes.

Publications

  • Sharen Litwin and Richard Loftus, “Contract Law Update 2012” – 15th Annual Conference, Employment Law 2012 (MCLE)
  • Sharen Litwin and Amy Burke, Common Law Tort Claims in the Employment Context – Chapter in MCLE’s Massachusetts Employment Law Book (MCLE, 2011)
  • Sharen Litwin, Employees’ Right to Privacy in Their Use of E-mail and Internet in the Workplace (BBA, June 2010)
  • Sharen Litwin, Employees’ Right to Privacy in the Workplace (MCLE, December 2006)
  • Sharen Litwin and Anne L. Josephson, “Severance Agreements: An Informal Checklist,” Employment Discrimination Law ’99 (MCLE, 1999)

Employment Law Blog

Employment Law Trends in Massachusetts and New England: An Employment Law Blog from the attorneys at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP.

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