A Middlesex Superior Court judge has rebuked the city manager of Cambridge, saying his “reprehensible” behavior amounted to a systematic campaign to oust a city employee who had filed a discrimination complaint.
Judge Bonnie H. MacLeod-Mancuso’s words came as she affirmed a jury’s verdict last May that Cambridge should pay Malvina Monteiro, the former city employee, more than $4.5 million after it found officials retaliated against her for filing a 1998 complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of race and national origin.
Monteiro lost her job in September 2003 as executive director of the city’s Police Review and Advisory Board, a civilian oversight group. She resigned after city officials informed her of their intention to fire her.
The judge’s decision, released late last week, described the actions of City Manager Robert Healy and other ci ty employees as a “deliberate, systematic campaign to punish the plaintiff as a reprisal for her effrontery in lodging a discrimination claim.”
“The jury had adequate evidence before it to find Healy’s conduct reprehensible,” MacLeod-Mancuso wrote.
“Healy indicated, in his testimony, that he was aware of the legal implications of retaliation . . . . Such conscious disregard for the law of retaliation would provide relevant support for an argument that strong medicine is required to cure the defendant’s disrespect for the law.”
The judge also dismissed Cambridge’s complaints about Monteiro’s lawyer’s cross-examination of Healy.
“Healy simply was not credible, and the jury was entitled to form this opinion based on his demeanor on the stand and his inconsistent and incoherent testimony,” the judge wrote.
The jury found the city’s retaliation so untoward that the verdict included $3.5 million in punitive damages, which are rare in Massachusetts.
The total bill for Cambridge could exceed $6 million once legal fees and statutory interest are factored in.
Monteiro, who is Cape Verdean, was hired by Cambridge in July 1990. She originally filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in September 1998.
A trial in 2005 ended when a jury found that Monteiro failed to prove the city discriminated against her before she filed her complaint, but the jury deadlocked on three other counts dealing with whether Cambridge discriminated or retaliated against her after filing the complaint.
If you or a family member has been subjected to wrongful termination or employment discrimination, then please contact the Fort Worth Texas Wrongful Termination Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.