In December of 2017, Attorney Greg Connly of DOLAN CONNLY, P.C., was contacted by a woman searching for an attorney. She was a former MBTA trolley operator and a member of the affiliated Union.
When Attorney Connly first spoke with the woman, she informed him that she had been representing herself in a claim alleging discrimination against the Union. She had filed the claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. After reviewing the evidence, the Commission found that there was no probable cause to bring her claim and it was dismissed.
Despite the dismissal, the woman then filed a lawsuit against the Union in Suffolk Superior Court on October 26, 2015. She found an attorney to represent her, but he later asked the Judge to allow him to withdraw from the case. As a result, the woman was again representing herself. She had alleged in the lawsuit that the Union had not advocated for her by failing to take her case to arbitration after she was wrongfully terminated by the MBTA. The woman was a native of Haiti and alleged that this failure by the Union to advocate on her behalf, was based on her race and national origin.
By the fall of 2017, the Union had filed for reconsideration of its Summary Judgment Motion seeking to have the case dismissed. Because of this, the Judge gave the woman a short time period in which to find another attorney to represent her in the lawsuit. The case was too complex for a layperson and she needed an attorney with an understanding of the specific legal issues and caselaw relating to discrimination claims.
Attorney Connly met with the woman just a few weeks before her deadline to find an attorney was due to expire. He reviewed her extensive file materials and concluded that prevailing in the lawsuit would be an uphill battle. Individuals from both the MBTA and the Union had allegedly aligned against the woman and would certainly try to discredit her in front of a jury. However, it was also clear to Attorney Connly that if the woman was telling the truth, then she had been the subject of egregious discrimination from some members of the Union.
Attorney Connly believed the woman’s account of the treatment she had been subjected to for an extended time period. He knew that it was important to allow for her story to be told in court. Attorney Connly agreed to represent the woman in the discrimination case and entered his appearance on her behalf in December of 2017. Attorney Connly opposed the Summary Judgment Motion on behalf of his client and it was denied. This meant that the case would go to trial before a jury.
Over the next ten months, Attorney Connly took depositions, defended his client at her deposition, interviewed witnesses, studied personnel records and located an important witness who had relocated to Georgia. Attorney Connly studied the Union’s Bylaws. He also consulted with his client’s physician to better understand the emotional and physical toll suffered by her due to the Union’s alleged mistreatment. Attorney Connly and his client then prepared for trial.
The trial began on October 29, 2018 in Suffolk Superior Court. See our next post for part two of this story.