Justin M. Murphy is a trial lawyer based in Boston, Massachusetts, and counsels individuals on employment law, discrimination law, and landlord-tenant law.
- Tel 617.921.8932
Justin M. Murphy is a trial lawyer based in Boston, Massachusetts, and counsels individuals on employment law, discrimination law, and landlord-tenant law.
Attorney Murphy has stepped up his pro bono efforts to help combat the impact of Covid-19 on people’s lives. If you are unemployed and experiencing issues with your employer or landlord, please contact Attorney Murphy immediately-he is here to help.
To this end, Attorney Murphy is pleased to report three (3) recent unemployment pro bono successes on behalf of his client(s):
1) In the first matter, Attorney Murphy represented a chaplain who worked for a local area hospital. The employer terminated the chaplain for attendance issues and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) determined the chaplain failed to adhere to the employer’s attendance policy, thereby denying the chaplain’s claim for benefits.
At the unemployment hearing, Attorney Murphy pointed out several inconsistencies with the employer’s version of events and argued that the chaplain’s actions were unintentional. The DUA agreed and reversed. Thereafter, the chaplain received a sizeable, back-dated check for benefits.
2) In the second matter, Attorney Murphy represented a former employee of Jamaican decent who worked for another major local hospital. The employer transferred the employee to a different position due to Covid-19. Significantly, the employee was required perform duties that he never performed before. The employer was dissatisfied with the employee’s performance and terminated him. The employer then contested the employee’s unemployment claim.
When Attorney Murphy learned of this gross and unfair termination and subsequent action of contesting unemployment, he immediately took the case pro bono. At the unemployment hearing, Attorney Murphy cross-examined the employer, exposing the employer’s non-credible and unsupported position it terminated the employee for misconduct. Attorney Murphy argued the employee did nothing wrong. The DUA agreed and rejected the employer’s case.
3) In the third matter, stakes were high for Attorney Murphy’s client. The DUA determined the client was in “fault” or committed fraud in claiming for unemployment benefits. At the unemployment hearing, Attorney Murphy argued that the facts and circumstances did not meet the legal definition of “fault”. The hearing officer agreed, and the client was not charged interest or penalties. Significantly, the client does not have a “fault” finding attached to her name.
If you received a probable cause finding at the the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), it is important to understand what this means.
First and foremost, the regulations on the rules of procedure at MCAD are contained in 804 CMR 1.00. The relevant provision for probable cause is 804 CMR 1:08 (f), which states, as follows:
“(f) Causal Determinations.
Second, it is extremely important to understand that a PC finding does not mean that you won your case. Essentially, a PC finding at MCAD means that there is sufficient evidence concerning your case to proceed to trial. The next step is to begin preparing for trial which is one of the most difficult parts of your case.
Third, a PC finding does not necessarily mean that you have a stronger case than your employer. Rather, the employer will now begin preparing to defend itself at trial. Preparing for trial means putting together a case that gives you the best chance at success. Understanding how your evidence should be presented at trial is critical.
A PC finding finally gives you the credibility that what happened to you in the workplace may have violated the law, and therefore harmed you.
Please call Attorney Murphy at (617) 921-8932 if you have any questions or wish to discuss your case.
After nearly 6.5 years of litigation at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”), Attorney Murphy’s client prevailed against his former employer, Rte. 2 Hyundai in Leominster, MA. During the 2 day trial, Attorney Murphy successfully proved that the employer’s basis for termination was actually pretext to hide its racial animus against the client, an African American car salesman. The Commission Hearing Officer found Rte. 2 contradicted itself with respect to its reasons for terminating Attorney Murphy’s client. The Hearing Officer then concluded Rte. 2’s contradictions amounted to a cover-up for illegal racial discrimination. See Daye v. Rte. 2 Hyundai, Docket no. 13-WEM-00440, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (2019).
Significantly, during the 6.5 years of litigation Attorney Murphy made several attempts to settle the case on behalf of his client, but the employer opted instead for a “rigorous defense”. Now, the employer is ordered to pay Attorney Murphy’s client lost wages, $50,000.00 for emotional distress, and all attorney’s fees and costs.
Attorney Murphy’s client can finally rest easy knowing that justice was served.
Attorney Murphy is pleased to have secured a $66,600.70 judgment in favor of his clients, two tenants in Medford, MA. Attorney Murphy filed a complaint in Boston Housing Court (Eastern Housing Court) alleging breach of the implied warranty of habitability, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, retaliation, violation of the Massachusetts Security Deposit law and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Attorney Murphy’s clients prevailed on all counts and were also awarded costs and attorney’s fees as mandated under the applicable laws.
Significantly, Attorney Murphy offered to resolve the matter on behalf of his clients for a reasonable amount, but the landlord (represented by counsel) clearly failed to appreciate the circumstances of the matter by rejecting the offer.
See Roush, et. al v. Lahey, et. al, Docket No. 18H84CV000236 (Eastern Housing Court, MA 2019).
Recently, Attorney Murphy settled a security deposit matter on behalf of his two clients, student roommates who rented an apartment in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. When the tenants vacated, the landlord withheld the tenants’ security deposit based on: damage to the walls, a broken door hinge, and for constable fees the landlord incurred in delivering a notice to quit to the tenants for a late rent payment.
Once the tenants realized the landlord was not returning the security deposit, the tenants contacted Attorney Murphy.
Attorney Murphy examined the landlord’s basis for withholding the security deposit and concluded it was unlawful. Significantly, Attorney Murphy identified the landlord violated Massachusetts law by charging the tenants for constable fees. It is illegal in Massachusetts for a landlord to do so prior to a formal legal action. See Commonwealth vs. Chatham Development Co. Inc., 49 Mass. App. Ct. 525 (2000)(it is illegal to charge tenants constable fees in Massachusetts prior to commencement of a formal legal complaint).
Attorney Murphy then examined the other basis for the landlord’s withholding the security deposit, and determined that the alleged damages were nothing more than normal wear and tear.
Accordingly, Attorney Murphy sent a demand letter to the landlord outlining his clients’ claims. The landlord responded by returning the full security deposit as well as paying for the tenants’ attorney’s fees.
After over three years of litigation at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”), Attorney Murphy’s client prevailed against her former employer, a nursing and rehabilitation center. During the 3 day trial, Attorney Murphy successfully proved that the employer’s basis for termination was actually pretext to hide its true motivation against his client, a black, female, Certified Nursing Assistant (“CNA”). Indeed, the hearing officer concluded that but for the CNA’s complaint of a discriminatory, hostile workplace, the employer would never have terminated Attorney Murphy’s client. This is because the client was one of the best and well-liked employees by residents of the facility-her 13 year work history was spotless.
Significantly, during the 3 years of litigation Attorney Murphy made several attempts to the settle the case on behalf of his client, but the employer did not believe it did anything wrong. During trial, however, Attorney Murphy quickly discredited the employer’s rationale and it became clear: the employer fired the CNA to rid itself of a “problem employee”. Thereafter, MCAD concluded this termination was illegal. See Cesar v. Danvers Management Systems, Inc. d/b/a Hunt Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (2018).
Accordingly, Attorney Murphy vindicated his client and brought her justice.
Attorney Murphy now shifts his focus to a similar case in which a different nursing home facility arguably terminated an employee for nearly the exact same reason as the above. Attorney Murphy hopes his work here improves management practices in nursing homes, where unfortunately, employee protections are often disregarded.
Two of Attorney Murphy’s clients recently won at their unemployment hearings after being initially denied benefits. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) denied benefits to these clients because the employers lied about the circumstances that lead to the separation from employment. And so Attorney Murphy is proud to have vindicated his clients after two highly contentious unemployment hearings.
Signed Confession Thrown Out
In the first case, Attorney Murphy’s client, a former cashier at a major pharmacy retail chain, was terminated for allegedly stealing $10.00 that a customer left behind at the cash register. The client denied she did anything wrong and asked for proof during an interrogation by a lost prevention officer. No proof was ever provided to the client, but nevertheless, the client signed a confession admitting she stole the money. Thereafter, the employer terminated Attorney Murphy’s client.
Attorney Murphy sat down with the client and was shocked to hear that the loss prevention officer accused the client of theft for over an hour in the back storage room of the store. During this hour long ordeal, the loss prevention officer berated Attorney Murphy’s client and made her feel like she had no rights; he made her feel like she was less than human. After what seemed like days, the client wrote a confession and signed it, thinking that doing so was the only way she could keep her job. This proved incorrect and she was fired. When Attorney Murphy heard this account, he assured his client he would do everything in his power to help her.
Thereafter, Attorney Murphy represented the client at the unemployment hearing. At the hearing Attorney Murphy established that the employer failed to present any proof that his client stole any money. Attorney Murphy then took aim at the hour long interrogation and argued the loss prevention officer essentially forced the client to sign a confession. The unemployment hearing officer agreed and concluded the employer did not prove the employee actually committed theft.
Now that Attorney Murphy has secured his client’s unemployment benefits, he is moving forward with a wrongful termination lawsuit against this large pharmaceutical retail chain.
Exposing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
In the second case, Attorney Murphy battled an employer in another unemployment hearing on behalf of his client, a former store manager of a large retail clothing store. The unemployment office denied the client’s claim for benefits because the employer said the client abandoned her job.
The client is a divorced, female and mother who needed her job to put food on the table. The last thing this woman would ever do is abandon her job. Attorney Murphy argued that the owner of the clothing store sexually harassed the client for years and that the employer is a liar. Attorney Murphy presented three former employees who testified the employer is known for gross behavior in the workplace. The employer’s lawyer aggressively attempted to discredit Attorney Murphy’s client, but Attorney Murphy counseled his client such that she maintained her composure and dignity throughout the hearing. After nearly a day of questioning, the unemployment office agreed with Attorney Murphy and concluded that the client did not abandon her job; but instead, the employer’s actions amounted to terminating her.
Now that Attorney Murphy has secured his client’s unemployment benefits, he and his client are moving forward with a wrongful termination lawsuit based on sexual harassment and illegal retaliation.
Attorney Murphy is pleased with a recent decision by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) affirming unemployment benefits for his client, a former restaurant manager of major seafood restaurant chain based in Boston. Attorney Murphy represented the manager at 2 separate unemployment hearings because the unemployment office lost the evidence from the first hearing. Thus, Attorney Murphy’s client was required to appear at a second de novo hearing despite prevailing at the first hearing. This was extremely frustrating for Attorney Murphy’s client, to say the least.
At the first hearing, Attorney Murphy successfully established that his client did nothing wrong despite the employer’s allegations that the client violated company policy by serving alcohol to an intoxicated guest. The client prevailed at the first hearing because the employer failed to prove Attorney Murphy’s client was actually aware that the guest was intoxicated.
*At the second de novo hearing, the employer brought its lawyer and an additional witness, a bartender who worked on the evening at issue. Again, the employer argued that Attorney Murphy’s client violated company policy by allowing a guest to be served after being shut-off by one of the bartenders. Then the employer called the bartender who testified Attorney Murphy’s client served an intoxicated guest after being shut off. Attorney Murphy then cross-examined the bartender who admitted he was paid to testify at the hearing. Attorney Murphy then questioned the bartender about the time-line of events. The bartender’s answers were inconsistent, and ultimately the unemployment hearing examiner determined that the bartender was not credible. Further, the hearing examiner determined that the employer’s evidence simply could not prove the bar manager did anything wrong.
Accordingly, the bartender prevailed again and is now receiving unemployment benefits.
Attorney Murphy understands that from a business point of view the employer in this case believed it was necessary to contest the bar manager’s eligibility for unemployment benefits; but, unfortunately, the employer failed to understand the purpose of unemployment law: to assist individuals who lost their job through no fault of their own.
Thus, the unemployment law contains strict requirements and employers should be well-advised to understand the law before wasting time and resources contesting claims.
Recently, Attorney Murphy secured a $100,992.00 judgment in favor of his client in a non-payment of wages case. At issue was whether the employer paid the client, a laborer, prevailing wages and wages due upon his termination. The evidence overwhelmingly favored Attorney Murphy’s client and the court granted treble damages, costs, and attorney fees. Superior Court docket no: 15-2056G.
Attorney Murphy represented his client in this private right of action case which allows payment of client’s attorneys fees to be paid by employers should they be found liable.
Recently, the unemployment office issued a decision upholding its initial determination that Attorney Murphy’s client was entitled to receive unemployment benefits. The client’s former employer appealed the determination stating the client quit her job by virtue of a “no-call, no show”. The client’s position was that her employer fired her. Attorney Murphy prepared his client for the hearing such that it was readily apparent she was a credible and honest individual; and cross-examined the employer at the hearing such that it was apparent the employer’s testimony and evidence failed to support their position. Indeed, the review examiner found the employer could not establish that Attorney Murphy’s client intentionally quit her job and applied Section 25(e)(2) rather than Section 25(e)(1) of the Massachusetts Unemployment Law.
Attorney Murphy notes that unless employers have an overwhelmingly amount of evidence to support that an employee quit through a “no-call, no show” employers face an uphill battle. Further, employers using agencies to handle these type of matters are not fairing any better; arguably, agencies are putting employers in worse positions which greatly helped Attorney Murphy’s client in this case.