The following are summaries of cases in which Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. obtained summary judgments, dismissals, affirmations, jury verdicts, and other favorable outcomes for our clients:

  • Federal Court Bench Trial Ends Favorably for Youth Center against Age Discrimination Claim

    A local youth center hired the plaintiff of this case as a part-time worker to head two federally grant-funded positions. After the funding for one of the programs expired in the summer of 2014, the plaintiff left the employer and did not communicate an intent of resuming work for the second federally funded position in the fall. The employer then accepted an applicant to work the second position for the fall. The plaintiff alleged age discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, among other claims as reasons for not resuming work on the second federally funded position that upcoming fall. After getting all but the age discrimination claims dismissed, Marylou Fabbo successfully demonstrated that the decision was made not because of any age discrimination or animus towards the plaintiff by the employer’s executive director, but because the plaintiff did not re-apply for a position as required by company policy for jobs that span throughout both the school year and summer months, as the needs for family (and in relation the employer’s staffing) varied from the school year to the summer. “Simply stated, Plaintiff’s failure to apply for a position in the summer or fall of 2014 and her failure to express interest in ongoing employment at [the youth center] was the reason for her separation—not age discrimination.” The judge noted how the plaintiff was a talented, effective, and committed individual working with the communities’ youth, but stated there “was simply no evidence of age-discriminatory animus,” and the court found in favor of the employer for the remaining age discrimination claims.
  • Arbitrator Rules Employer Did Not Retaliate Against Employee for Engaging in Union Activity

    An employee was let go after a three-year probationary period. She grieved the employer's decision through her union, alleging that it violated her collective bargaining agreement because it was retaliation for protected union activity - specifically, a series of grievances she had filed challenging negative feedback she had received in her performance evaluations, authored by her supervisors, over the previous two years. The union also claimed that the employer committed an unfair labor practice by allegedly rejecting the terms of an earlier agreement to resolve one of the employee’s prior grievances. After a two-day arbitration, at which the employer was represented by Skoler Abbott Attorney Ralph Abbott, the arbitrator rejected both of the union's claims. The arbitrator agreed with the employer that the decision not to continue the employee’s employment was not retaliation for her grievances, but was instead based on the employer's conclusion that she was not suitable to work in its unique program. This conclusion was supported not just by the negative performance feedback she had grieved, but by other documented concerns that had been raised long before she filed those grievances about her interactions with others, and by the credible testimony of the ultimate decision-maker, who did not author any of the performance evaluations the employee grieved. The arbitrator also dismissed the union's unfair labor practice charge, finding that there was insufficient evidence to support the union's claim that the employer had repudiated an earlier settlement agreement.
  • Jury Verdict for Employer After 5-Day Trial

    A healthcare provider’s employee was accused of assault and battery and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The alleged victim brought a lawsuit against both the organization and the alleged wrongdoer. In this he said/she said case, Marylou Fabbo was successful in demonstrating to the jury that Plaintiff’s witnesses should be discredited. The jury returned a verdict within about an hour.
  • Skoler Abbott Wins Summary Judgment on FMLA and ADA Claims

    A forklift operator took leave from work after having surgery to address a blockage in his artery. The employer granted the leave but did not provide the employee with notice of his FMLA rights. The employee returned to work with restrictions, which his employer accommodated. Shortly after his return, the employee was directed to work in the receiving department as opposed to his usual assignment in the shipping department. The employee objected to working in the receiving department because he was concerned that it would cause him to exceed his lifting restrictions. He attempted to contact his supervisor by phone to express his concerns, but his supervisor didn't answer. The employee then left work without permission and continued trying to contact his supervisors from home, and the employer terminated the employee for walking off the job. The employee sued, claiming his employer interfered with his FMLA rights by failing to give him notice of his FMLA rights, retaliated against him for exercising rights under the FMLA, failed to provide him with reasonable accommodations under the ADA, and discriminated against him because of his disability. Skoler Abbott attorney Marylou Fabbo obtained summary judgment for the employer on all of the employee's claims. In dismissing the employee's claims, the court held that: 1) the employee was terminated because he walked off the job without permission and not because of FMLA retaliation or ADA discrimination; 2) the employee was not harmed by his lack of FMLA notice, as he was allowed to take all the leave he needed; and 3) the employee failed to demonstrate that he was a disabled under the ADA and therefore entitled to any reasonable accommodation.
  • Federal Court Awards Summary Judgment on Store Manager’s Disability Claim

    “[T]he employee elected not to keep [the employer] informed about his treatment or prospects to return, even if they were uncertain. [The employer] was not obligated either to guess what was going on, or to extend his leave indefinitely.” 

    A hardware store manager who was notified of his assignment to a different store alleged that his transfer was motivated by his heart condition in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. He claimed that after obtaining a note from his doctor stating that his health prevented him from taking the transfer or taking on a new position, he was “forced” to take FMLA leave, and the employer refused to accommodate him when he was ready to return. The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts disagreed. In addition to holding that much of the employee’s case was time-barred, the Court concluded that the employer represented by Attorney Marylou Fabbo had ample evidence demonstrating that it had held jobs open for him and had offered him alternate positions. However, despite his claims to the contrary, the documentation he provided from his healthcare provider continued to state that he could not take on any new position. Based on the doctor’s note, the employee was not permitted to return to work and the positions were filled. He then told the employer that he would be having surgery the following month, but he didn’t specify when. Ultimately, the employee stopped communicating at all with the employer. The Court granted judgment for the employer concluding that the employee was terminated for that reason—not because of discrimination.
  • Skoler Abbott Wins NLRB Election

    Ralph Abbott represented a large international manufacturer and supplier of specialty engineered consumable products used in the production of pulp paper, paperboard, and non-woven products, at a plant located in Neenah, Wisconsin that had been targeted for organizing by the International Association of Machinists (IAM). On August 17, 2017, the employer prevailed in an NLRB election with 27 votes for the employer and 7 for the union.
  • First Circuit Affirms Disability and FMLA Retaliation Dismissal

    Henry was a Credit Analyst who had a medical condition that United accommodated for several months until she could no longer work at all. Henry took a medical leave, but at no time could she or her doctors provide United with any idea of when she may have been able to return to work. After twelve weeks, United terminated her employment because it could no longer hold her position open indefinitely. As a result, Henry filed disability discrimination and FMLA claims against United in Massachusetts Federal Court. The Federal Court’s award of summary judgment was appealed by the plaintiff. Attorney Marylou Fabbo convinced the First Circuit to affirm summary judgment to United Bank, finding that it supported its legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for ending Henry’s employment such as such as the extra workload her co-workers had been required to carry in her absence and the inability to fill her position with a temporary employee due to confidentiality concerns.
  • Dismissal Affirmed by First Circuit Court of Appeals

    An employee filed a complaint against our client in which she claimed a variety of alleged wrongdoings on the part of the defendants; however, she did not identify any law that the defendants violated by their alleged behavior. As it was impossible to respond to the complaint as written, Attorney Marylou Fabbo filed a Motion for a More Definite Statement, which the District Court promptly granted. The employee filed an Amended Complaint which also failed to identify the legal theory under which the employee was proceeding. Skoler Abbott attorneys fought for the defendants for five years until the case was successfully resolved and the Court dismissed the lawsuit. The employee appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and it affirmed the trial court’s dismissal.
  • Summary Judgment Awarded in Disability Discrimination Case

    An applicant for employment alleged that he was discriminated against on the basis of perceived disability and was therefore entitled to reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The employer, O.F. Mossberg, had offered the plaintiff a machine operator position contingent on passing a pre-employment physical, but rescinded the offer after he failed the physical. The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut awarded summary judgment to O.F. Mossberg, after Attorney Kimberly Klimczuk argued that no reasonable jury could find that O.F. Mossberg had discriminated against the plaintiff or had any obligation to accommodate the restrictions imposed by the physician who conducted the pre-employment medical exam.
  • FMLA Lawsuit Dismissed

    Attorney Amelia J. Holstrom was successful in obtaining a dismissal in a case where a former employee alleged that she was retaliated against for taking Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave, that her FMLA rights were interfered with, and that she was constructively discharged. After the self-represented Plaintiff failed to respond to discovery and refused to appear for her deposition, despite being warned multiple times by the Court that she had to participate in her case, Attorney Holstrom filed a Motion to Dismiss the matter. The Motion was granted by Judge Ponsor on March 31, 2015.
  • Summary Judgment Awarded in Constructive Discharge Case

    The plaintiff, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, was hired by our client as an out-patient therapist in 2006, providing mental health therapy to clients. Under Massachusetts law, there is a social worker-client privilege that protects communications between the social worker and her client unless the client signs a release. Pursuant to the Massachusetts Mandated Reporter statute, an exception to the privilege occurs when a social worker has reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 is suffering physical or emotional injury due to abuse or neglect. If this suspicion is present, the social worker, a mandated reporter, must report the suspected abuse or neglect to DCF. When our client learned that plaintiff had disclosed confidential information about a client to DCF without a signed release and under circumstances that were not covered by the mandated reporter statute, it decided to discipline plaintiff. Plaintiff then resigned and, thereafter, in August 2012 filed a suit for retaliation for acting as a mandated reporter. Attorneys Timothy F. Murphy and Amelia J. Holstrom were successful in obtaining summary judgment for our client, after the court agreed that plaintiff was not acting as a mandated reporter when she disclosed confidential communications to DCF and, therefore, her discipline was not an act of retaliation. The court also concluded that plaintiff was not constructively discharged.
  • Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Unemployment Denial

    After failing to properly clean patient rooms despite several warnings, an employee was terminated for insubordination. The employee filed for unemployment benefits, but her benefits were denied. She appealed this decision all the way to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Attorney John Gannon successfully persuaded the Massachusetts Appeals Court to affirm a decision denying Plaintiff’s unemployment benefits. The Appeals Court agreed that the plaintiff was not entitled to benefits because she committed deliberate misconduct in willful disregard of the employer’s interest, and there were no circumstances that mitigated her misconduct.
  • Connecticut Federal Court Dismisses Noncompete Lawsuit

    Attorney John Gannon was successful in dismissing a case where a former employee allegedly violated a non-compete agreement. The former employee was working in Canada and his former employer was located in Connecticut. The United States District Court (New Haven) dismissed the case because the former employer could not establish the court had personal jurisdiction over the employee.
  • Age and National Original Discrimination Lawsuit Dismissed

    The plaintiff was hired by our client as a laboratory scientist in 2007.  Unfortunately, like many other businesses during the Great Recession, the company began experiencing financial difficulties in 2009.  Based on declining revenue and profits, our client was forced to lay off the plaintiff.   She responded by filing a discrimination lawsuit alleging that her age and national origin were the true reasons for letting her go.  In support of these claims, the plaintiff pointed to several comments allegedly made by her supervisor that showed favoritism for younger employees who were not of the plaintiff’s national origin.  Specifically, she claimed that her supervisor said younger scientists would work for less, and Chinese employees had superior work attitudes. Attorneys Timothy F. Murphy and John Gannon were successful in obtaining summary judgment, and the Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit concluding that the supervisor’s statements were not made with discriminatory intent.  Although the alleged comments made allusions to age and national origin, they were based on real economic factors.  The financial well-being of the company was deteriorating, and his comments were more of a “pep talk” to inform all of the employees that their jobs were in jeopardy, including his own.  His remarks were made to the entire workforce, and were not aimed specifically at the plaintiff.  In the end, the court concluded that these comments were not enough to defeat our client’s motion for summary judgment.  The plaintiff failed to show that the decision to lay her off was not based on our client’s financial predicament.
  • Court Dismisses Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

    The plaintiff had been employed by a company that subcontracted work from our corporate client, and she had previously worked with the individually named defendant at that company. After she failed to receive a promotion, the plaintiff made a complaint of gender discrimination to her employer. The Plaintiff then claimed that the individual who received the promotion retaliated against her as the result of the gender discrimination complaint she had made and that he assisted her employer’s discrimination. The Plaintiff also claimed that our clients interfered with her ability to obtain employment with a subsequent employer by “badmouthing” her. Attorney Marylou Fabbo argued that the plaintiff could not establish that the defendants assisted her employer’s discrimination because an arbitrator had concluded that no discrimination had in fact occurred. Additionally, there was no evidence that any defamatory statements had been made to the potential employer, and the plaintiff admitted that the potential employer did not believe any defamatory statements that allegedly had been made must result in a dismissal of that claim. The Superior Court granted summary judgment to our clients and dismissed the lawsuit.
  • Uncooperative Adversary Leads to Case Dismissal

    A Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former employee of Lutheran Social Services of New England who alleged that he had been discriminated against based on his religious beliefs. The employee had a documented history of poor performance, which included several written warnings. Even so, he claimed that his termination was causally connected to his Christian values. During the discovery phase of the litigation, Skoler Abbott partner Marylou Fabbo brought a motion to dismiss the case based on the plaintiff’s, and his counsel’s, failure to cooperate in the discovery process. The plaintiff had failed to answer interrogatories, produce documents, or make himself available for deposition. Attorney Fabbo argued that such uncooperative behavior was completely unfair to her clients, who were distressed over being named in the lawsuit and eager to resolve the matter. Ultimately, Attorney Fabbo won a very substantial costs award for her clients based on plaintiff’s and his counsel’s continued uncooperative behavior in the case. The costs were not paid, and Attorney Fabbo, along with Skoler Abbott associate John Gannon, brought a renewed motion to dismiss the case. The court granted the motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit.
  • NLRB Dismisses Unfair Labor Practice Charges

    Under the National Labor Relations Act, at certain times, employees represented by a union can seek to bring that representation to an end, by petitioning the NLRB to conduct a secret ballot decertification election. Employees at New England Confectionary Company (“NECCO”) filed a decertification petition seeking such an election so that employees could vote on whether they wished to continue to be represented by the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union. However, the Union filed unfair labor practice charges, alleging that the petition was tainted by employer misconduct. Specifically the Union claimed that petition was tainted and that NECCO had violated the National Labor Relations Act by allowing a rank and file employee to solicit signatures on the decertification petition during work hours, and through the actions of an HR generalist at NECCO who allegedly assisted employees in obtaining signatures supporting the decertification petition. Based on the Union’s unfair labor practice charges, the Boston Regional Director issued a Complaint against the company and dismissed the decertification petition. The matter proceeded to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) with Attorney Jay Presser of Skoler Abbott defending the Company. The ALJ agreed with the employer’s argument that the HR generalist was not an agent or apparent agent of the employer, and that her conduct therefore was not attributable to the employer as an unfair labor practice. The ALJ also found no evidence that NECCO had interfered with the petition by discriminatorily allowing employees to solicit signatures on the petition during work hours. The ALJ did find that it was an unfair labor practice for a manager, while complimenting a pro-Union employee’s work efforts, which because of the Union’s contract with the company, unfortunately could not pay the employee more. The NLRB’s General Counsel and Union appealed the ALJ’s decision. On December 30, 2010, the Board affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, including his dismissal of the charges of conduct that were alleged to have tainted the petition process. As a result, the previously dismissed petition for decertification may be reopened in the future.
  • Court Enforces Non-Competition Agreement for Skoler Abbott Client

    A Superior Court judge recently affirmed the validity of a non-competition agreement, sending a warning to both employees who violate non-competition agreements and the employers who hire them in violation of those agreements. A sales employee of Kinsley Equipment Co., Inc. (“Kinsley”), entered into an agreement with Kinsley agreeing not to solicit the company’s actual or potential customers for a two-year period after his employment ended. Upon learning that his Kinsley employment might end, the employee applied for a job and was hired by one of Kinsley’s direct competitors, Authorized Services of New England, LLC (“Authorized”). Kinsley contacted Skoler Abbott partner Marylou Fabbo, who contacted Authorized Services and informed the company of the existence of the non-competition agreement. Authorized was not persuaded to rescind its job offer, and so Attorney Fabbo filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kinsley against Authorized and the employee, seeking enforcement of the non-competition agreement and requesting an injunction immediately enforcing the Agreement. After hearing the parties’ respective arguments on the validity of the non-competition agreement, the Superior Court issued an order prohibiting the employee from competing with Kinsley in any manner within his former assigned sales territory; from contacting, directly or indirectly, any business entity or individual who had been one of Kinsley’s actual or prospective client with whom the employee had contact during the employee’s last year of employment with Kinsley; and from revealing any of Kinsley’s confidential information to anyone. This decision demonstrates that courts will enforce non-competition agreements if they are reasonable in terms of the length of the prohibition on competition and geographic scope, and if they also serve to protect employers’ legitimate business interests.