Attorney Murphy is a trial lawyer based in Boston, Massachusetts concentrating on civil litigation matters.
Attorney Murphy counsels individuals and small, local businesses on labor and employment law, civil rights-discrimination law, and landlord-tenant law.
On May 12, 2014, the Boston Bar Association awarded Attorney Murphy the “President’s Award” for providing pro bono legal assistance to victims and small business owners affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing through the Boston Bar Association’s Marathon Assistance Project. Attorney Murphy is proud to be a recipient of such a distinguished award and shall continue to support and strengthen the Greater Boston community through his law practice.
Given that June through September are the major “moving” months of the year, Attorney Murphy is now taking a limited amount of pro bono security deposit cases. If you are a landlord or tenant dealing with the legal uncertainties of the Massachusetts security deposit law, Attorney Murphy can provide you guidance. Landlords must follow strict rules and tenants have several rights when it comes to a security deposit.
Attorney Murphy strongly advises resolving security deposit matters outside of court, but if necessary housing court can also be an option to determine whether a landlord or tenant is entitled to the security deposit monies.
Recently, Attorney Murphy’s client, a former branch manager of a bank, received a favorable unemployment benefits decision after a highly contentious administrative hearing. The bank terminated Attorney Murphy’s client due to an alleged workplace violation and argued the client should not be entitled to benefits.
Attorney Murphy quickly focused on his client’s 25 years experience in the banking industry to dispel with many of the bank’s assertions. Then during cross examination, Attorney Murphy took aim at the bank’s weakest position by questioning the bank representative about its internal investigation of the case. Attorney Murphy knew that the internal investigation was flawed because it failed to produce a scintilla of evidence supporting the termination. Indeed, the unemployment examiner concluded that the bank did not provide sufficient evidence to conclude any policies were violated.
Attorney Murphy is pleased that his client was able to find some recourse in the fact that the bank had no answer, defense, or justification for his termination. Hart v. Sovereign Bank (2014).
Recently, Attorney Murphy’s client received a favorable unemployment benefits decision after a Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) administrative hearing on the merits of the client’s claim. The employer terminated the client soon after his Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) “leave” expired. The employer stated that the client failed to provide medical updates regarding his ability to return to work. Attorney Murphy, however, offered evidence establishing a consistent pattern of updates on behalf of his client. Thereafter, the unemployment office determined that the employer did not meet its burden to establish the client is not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Sinbandit v. Metalcrafters, 2014.
Attorney Murphy notes that it is important for employees to document anything that may pertain to their cases; and that an email, text, or evidence of a phone call to a supervisor can be important to prove their case.
Importantly, employees should seek counsel prior to the expiration of any medical leave in order to ensure their rights are protected.
Posted in Employment Law
Tagged 25(e)(2), appealing unemployment decision, boston unemployment lawyer, dua, FMLA, medical documentation, medical leave, pro bono attorney, unemployment, unemployment benefits, unemployment hearing
Attorney Murphy’s clients, two co-tenants, recently received a satisfactory bench trial judgment in which they retained possession of their apartment. The tenants’ landlord filed for eviction against Attorney Murphy’s clients due to non-payment of rent. The court, however, found that the tenants had legally withheld rent.
At trial, Attorney Murphy offered several critical pieces of evidence supporting his clients’ case that their apartment violated the sanitary code. During cross-examination, the landlord also admitted he did not comply with the security deposit law. Accordingly, the court ruled that Attorney Murphy’s clients were entitled to possession of the apartment, and awarded treble damages for the landlord’s breach of warranty of habitability; and their attorney fees to be paid by the landlord.
Attorney Murphy notes this trial occurred only after nearly four months of settlement negotiations failed to bring an appropriate resolution. There is no doubt unnecessary time and expenses were incurred by the parties.
Posted in Landlord-Tenant
Tagged bad conditions, bench trial, bmc, breach of warranty of habitability, discrimination, eviction lawyer, eviction trial, housing court, housing mediation, landlord tenant law, lead contamination, massachusetts security deposit law, retaliation, summary process action, treble damages and attorney fees, violation of sanitary code
Recently, Attorney Murphy attended the 5th Annual Housing Court Judicial Forum, held at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Center (MCLE) in Boston, MA. Among the distinguished panel of judges were the Honorable Anne Kenney Chaplin; Honorable Marylou Muirhead; Chief Justice of the Housing Court, Honorable Steven D. Pierce; and Honorable Timothy F. Sullivan. The panel of judges mainly discussed the business of the Housing Court in Massachusetts. Topics ranged from the Lawyer for the Day Program in the Worcester Housing Court, self-service centers in Housing Court, the utility of limited assistance representation (LAR), issues related to post-foreclosure evictions, and the expansion of the Housing Court jurisdiction to cover all of Massachusetts. The judges also provided invaluable insight with regard to the nuances of practicing law in housing court. For example, the panel of judges agreed that the security deposit law can be difficult for landlords to understand, and attorneys should ensure landlords are well advised as to the adverse liabilities of non-compliance.
Recently, Attorney Murphy’s client received a favorable decision after an administrative unemployment benefits hearing of the Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The DUA originally denied the client unemployment benefits because he quit his job. The client was a high performing software engineer at a financial services company for more than 10 years. However, a new supervisor unfairly targeted the client in his performance evaluation. The client was put on a performance action plan, but the plan failed to contain well documented incidents which illustrate the behaviors that needed to be improved. The client made numerous attempts to reconcile his supervisor’s expectations, even involving human resources. Human resources, however, failed to appropriately respond. Thereafter, the client believed the situation to be unresolvable, and his health rapidly declined. In fact, the client was prescribed various medications to counteract the health issues related to this dysfunctioning workplace environment. The client grappled with the prospect of quitting but decided against it because of his family. Eventually, however, the client decided that for his health and well-being he needed to quit the position. The client applied for unemployment benefits, but the DUA denied his claim.
The client then contacted Attorney Murphy. Attorney Murphy provided a frank assessment which was that these type of cases are some of the most difficult to win. This is because the evidentiary burden required to satisfy the unemployment law is quite high. When an employee quits their job, the burden is on the employee to prove the underlying reasons are sufficient under the law. Yet, despite this uphill challenge Attorney Murphy took on the case.
Attorney Murphy prepared his client and elicited credible testimony from him at the administrative appeals hearing. Thereafter, the administrative review examiner concluded the health issues were caused by the employer’s mishandling of the Performance Improvement Procedure. Accordingly, the client was found entitled to receive benefits.
Attorney Murphy notes that this unfortunate case could have been avoided but for human resources inability to appropriately respond to their employee’s problem.