April V. Taylor
A Suffolk Superior Court jury has awarded city employee Chantal Charles, who is Black and Haitian, a $10.9 million settlement after ruling that Charles was subjected to discrimination during her time as a senior administrative assistant with the City of Boston. Charles worked for the city’s Treasury Department and had accused the city of giving her fewer benefits and lower pay than her white co-workers. She also was suing for retaliation she said she suffered when she was given less-favorable job reviews after she filed a complaint in 2011 with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
As part of the settlement, Charles was awarded $10 million in punitive damages, $500,000 for emotional distress and almost $389,000 in additional pay. Charles declined to comment after the settlement, but one of her attorneys, Emma Quinn-Judge, stated, “I hope that this jury verdict will convince the city to take a good hard look at [its] hiring practices.”
A spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh spoke with the Boston Globe through e-mail, stating that the discrimination Charles says she was subjected to occurred under a different administration and that the city is planning to appeal the ruling. The amount of the settlement is significantly more than the $4.5 million awarded to a former employee who accused management of racial discrimination. The city has also lost previous discrimination lawsuits.
Charles was originally hired by the City of Boston in 1986 and reports that she began experiencing discrimination after the Trust Division office she worked for was relocated within City Hall in the late 1990s. Supervisor Vivian Leo denied Charles overtime pay, flexible hours, transportation benefits and use of her management title according to the lawsuit.
A recent report reveals that the Treasury Department was the least diverse of all the city’s workforce. Charles also says that it was Leo who advised a supervisor to issue a subpar evaluation on her after she initially filed a discrimination complaint. A spokeswoman for the mayor reports that Leo will remain in her current position.