Download PDF

News & Events

Massachusetts Partners Obtain Defense Verdict for Union Contractor

Lynnfield Partners Nora R. Adukonis and Angela L. Linson obtained a defense verdict in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of a Boston-area contractor in a case involving allegations of a hostile work environment, gender discrimination and retaliation brought pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 151B and Title VII.

Plaintiff was a female apprentice in a union-funded apprenticeship and training program. During the second year of the program,  Plaintiff was assigned to work for our client, a Boston-area contractor, operating and maintaining heavy construction equipment on job sites. Although Plaintiff ’s on-the-job performance was adequate, she failed to pass an exam required to progress to the third year of the training program. As a result, Plaintiff was expelled from the training program and lost her membership in the union. Our client, a union contractor, could not continue to employ Plaintiff after she lost membership in the union.

Eight months after her separation from employment, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) against our client, a general contractor and her former union. The charge alleged that Plaintiff was subjected to a hostile working environment on a job site more than a year earlier, and that “nothing” was done by our client, the general contractor, the union or the training program. Plaintiff also alleged that she was expelled from the training program and terminated from employment in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment.

Plaintiff removed her case from the MCAD and filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the general contractor on March 1, 2022, while Plaintiff was permitted to take her claims against our client, the union and the training program to trial. Trial commenced on March 13, 2023.

At trial, Plaintiff testified concerning the treatment she claimed she suffered at the hands of two co-workers. Plaintiff testified that she was so distressed by the events on the job site that she was unable to study for her exams. She denied that the union, the training program or our client ever did anything to protect her or respond to her grievances, but introduced no testimony or evidence establishing that our client could have continued employing her after her loss of membership in the union and expulsion from the training program. Her experts testified that she was expected to lose millions of dollars in lifetime earnings as a result of her expulsion from the training program.

After the close of Plaintiff ’s case, fact witnesses effectively and efficiently rebutted the Plaintiff s allegations of sexual harassment, and established that the union, training program and our client each responded quickly and effectively when Plaintiff complained about her co-workers. The jury deliberated for less than a half day and returned a defense verdict as to all counts and all defendants.

Nora practices in the areas of employment, insurance coverage, products liability and construction liability. Representative experience includes defending clients in actions alleging injuries or property damage from fires, floods, defective products or chemical exposure.

Angela represents clients in a range of complex litigation matters including employment litigation, and executive and professional liability. She also handles products and premises liability cases, as well as bad faith claims.