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Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hospital, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-025-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11875   BERNARD E. BULWER  vs.  MOUNT AUBURN HOSPITAL & others.[1]       Middlesex.     November 3, 2015. – February 29, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Hospital, Appointment to staff.  Anti-Discrimination Law, Race, Employment.  Employment, Discrimination.  Contract, Employment, With hospital, Performance and breach.  Practice, Civil, Summary judgment.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on February 22, 2008.   The case was heard by S. Jane Haggerty, J., on a motion for summary judgment.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Robert R. Hamel, Jr. (Megan E. Kures with him) for the defendants. Denzil D. McKenzie (James E. Clancy, IV, with him) for the plaintiff. James A.W. Shaw, for Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     LENK, J.  Massachusetts law prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of, among other things, race or national origin.  See G. L. c. 151B, § 4.  Because direct proof of such discrimination is rarely available, employees filing claims under G. L. c. 151B, § 4, are permitted to prove discrimination without direct evidence of discriminatory intent, by relying on evidence that their employers gave a “false reason,”[2] or pretext, for terminating their employment.  In this case, we address whether the plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence of pretext to survive his former employer’s motion for summary judgment.  In doing so, we clarify the evidentiary burdens each party faces after one party has moved for summary judgment.  We address, in particular, three concerns:  whether the evidence on which an employee relies to survive a defendant’s motion for summary judgment need show not only that the defendant’s stated reason was false, but also that it concealed a discriminatory purpose; whether it is the plaintiff’s burden to persuade the motion judge based on that evidence that there is an issue of material fact appropriate for trial; and, finally, whether, in discerning the existence of an issue of material fact, the motion judge may weigh or otherwise evaluate the evidence. The plaintiff, Bernard E. Bulwer, is a black male of African descent who is originally from the Central American country of Belize.  The plaintiff has a medical degree from the University of the West Indies, and practiced medicine outside the United States until […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 29, 2016 at 6:23 pm

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