Bennett & Belfort
At Bennett & Belfort, we are committed to
building long lasting relationships. Whether our
clients are individuals or companies, we guide them
using decades of trial experience, effective negotiation
skills and tested legal strategies. We proudly provide
our clients with effective, creative legal solutions.
The courtroom knowledge of Bennett & Belfort
attorneys gives our clients a powerful advantage. Our
preparation and experience allow us to better anticipate
our opponents' strategies, shape the direction of a
legal matter, and achieve our clients' objectives.
In addition to being accomplished advocates both inside
and outside of the courtroom, our lawyers are accessible
and attentive to our clients' needs, budgets, and goals.
24 Thorndike Street, Suite 300
Cambridge MA 02141
We regularly and successfully represent employees relating to sexual harassment matters.
Sexual harassment is typically considered a sub-set of gender discrimination or discrimination based on gender. There are two main types of sexual harassment claims: "quid pro quo" sexual harassment and "hostile work environment" sexual harassment. They may occur independently or at the same time. Both are violations of law.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Chapter 151B defines "quid pro quo" sexual harassment as "sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when . . . submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions."
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employee with authority or control over the terms and conditions of another employee's work "offers" them a work benefit or advantage in exchange for sexual favors or gratification. Employees may be denied a work benefit or advantage because of their rejection of requests for sexual favors. Alternatively, the submission to unwelcome sexual advances also results in quid pro quo harassment given that the terms or conditions of one's employment are invariably adversely impacted.
Simply put, if an employer threatens to take adverse action against a subordinate employee (demote them, reduce their salary, fail to promote them, or refuse to raise their salary) for failing to perform sexual favors, the employee is the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment
Hostile Work Environment
Chapter 151B defines "hostile work environment" harassment as: "sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when . . . such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment."
Hostile work environment claims are usually based on severe actions (e.g. inappropriate touching) or pervasive conduct or statements (e.g. multiple lewd sexual comments or jokes) directed at an employee or in an employee's presence. Such conduct routinely impacts an employee's emotional state and ability to function in a professional environment. A hostile work environment interferes with an employee's right to be free of harassment on the job and invariably interferes with the ability of workers to perform job duties at their best.
Sexual harassment is not limited to any one gender. The victim of sexual harassment may be either female or male.
Failure to pay wages is a major component of the work we do.
Both Massachusetts law (M.G.L. c. 149 148-150) and federal laws (The Fair Labor Standards Act or "FLSA", 29 U.S.C. 201-219) govern the payment of employee wages, including payment of minimum wage and overtime; record keeping requirements for Massachusetts employers; and the proper classification of workers as employees or independent contractors.
The Massachusetts Payment of Wages Act ("the Wage Act") requires employers to promptly pay wages to their employees. M.G.L. c. 149 148. The term "wages" includes regular salary (or hourly pay) and earned commissions; as well as earned vacation time, holiday pay, and other earned time (such as time earned pursuant to a paid time off "PTO" policy). Interestingly, in this rapidly developing area of law, certain non-discretionary bonuses may be characterized as compensation subject to the protections of the Wage Act.
Employers who violate the Wage Act are exposed to paying treble (triple) damages, and attorneys' fees to an employee. Importantly, the Wage Act also provides that certain corporate officers are individually liable for wage violations. Pursuant to the Wage Act, a corporation's president, treasurer, and any officers or agents "having the management of such corporation," face individual liability. M.G.L. c. 149 148. The threat of multiple damages and individual liability for a company's failure to properly pay wages increases the stakes in the litigation of wage and hour claims. Employers who violate the Wage Act also face civil enforcement actions or lawsuits from both the Attorney General of Massachusetts, from an individual employee or as collective, or class, action. Additionally, there is the potential of criminal liability for Wage Act violations.
Often, Wage Act violations arise only after an employee leaves a business. When an employee is terminated involuntarily, all wages due and owing must be paid immediately. However, it is not always clear if/when wages are "due and owing." For example, when an employee is compensated in whole or in part by commission, and the employee performed some work towards earning the commission prior to termination, a dispute may arise over the issue of when or if these wages are, in fact, earned. The most common illustration of this is when a commission-based employee performs a substantial amount of work towards closing a deal or making a sale, but the deal is closed (and the employer is paid) after the employee separates from the employer. The company might argue that the commissions are not "due and owing" because there are ongoing obligations relative to the account, like maintaining the customer relationship or training, that other employees must address.
Having one of our skilled trial lawyers as your advocate is an asset. While we always encourage clients to explore early resolution to their legal matters, sometimes the only viable option is going to court and having a trial. We believe that because our opponents are aware of our litigation experience and that we are well-prepared to try cases if necessary, we are able to achieve better results for our clients.
Sound communication is vital to each attorney-client relationship. We work hard to create and maintain long term relationships with our clients. We get to know our clients by making ourselves accessible and approachable, responding promptly to telephone calls and e-mails and spending the time necessary to know the facts of each case. If a client does not understand something clearly, we will attempt to explain it until they do. Collaboration and honesty are at the forefront of our core values. By listening carefully and compassionately to our clients while providing objective, realistic assessments of their legal claims, we empower our clients to make well informed decisions about how to proceed.
We are committed to providing highly effective legal solutions tailored to fit each individual client's needs. We accomplish this by:
Relying on our extensive experience, both inside and outside of the courtroom, in providing realistic advice.
Thoroughly researching and understanding the legal issues involved and how they apply to each client's unique circumstances.
Maintaining sound communication with every client and educating each client, when necessary, about the implications of the law on their particular case.
Being well prepared and positioned to take a case to trial if / when necessary.
Providing a candid assessment of each client's legal matter.
Our firm is highly experienced in representing clients in litigation matters. The core areas of litigation that we focus on include:
Business / commercial litigation
Real estate litigation
Eric is a partner at Bennett & Belfort, P.C. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College and his law degree at Suffolk University Law School. Eric is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, the United States District Court for Massachusetts, and the United States Federal Court of Claims. He is also a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and Boston Bar Association.
Eric is a litigator whose practice is diverse and wide ranging. He concentrates his practice in the areas of employment law, commercial/business law, and construction. His cases have involved: stockholder and partnership disputes; employment claims such as violations of covenants not to compete, discrimination, and wrongful discharge claims; wage and hour controversies; class action litigation; disputes arising from commercial and residential real estate transactions; will, trust, and estate-related disputes; insurance disputes; and, claims arising from construction projects and contracts.
Prior to joining Bennett & Belfort, P.C., Eric practiced at two large, long-established Boston law firms. His diverse experience regularly representing both plaintiffs and defendants gives him a unique perspective to litigating cases, and allows him to evaluate and litigate cases as efficiently as possible.
From 2012 to the present, Eric has annually been named a SuperLawyer Rising Star in the area of business litigation, an honor awarded to only 2.5% of practicing attorneys under the age of 40 who have been practicing for 10 years or less. In addition, in 2015, Eric was named a 2015 Rising Star by the National Law Journal. The National Law Journal annually selects Boston Rising Stars which is a list of 40 outstanding lawyers in the Boston area, age 40 or younger.
In addition to his litigation work, Eric is the co-author of: "Federal Rules of Evidence Which Figure Prominently in Civil Litigation", a chapter in MCLE Federal Civil Litigation in the First Circuit. (2008 rev.) and The Cycle of America's Privacy Intrusion: The USA Patriot Act Continues a Historical Trend, The Joan Fullman Irick Privacy Project, Phase III (International Association of Defense Counsel, 2007).
Eric lives on the North Shore with his wife and daughter, and remains a proud graduate of St. John's Preparatory School.
* Acted as lead trial counsel in numerous trials, both jury trials and bench trials.
* Lead trial counsel on the successful defense of a piece of class action litigation against a major pizza delivery chain and its local franchisee for violations of the Massachusetts TIPS act and minimum wage violations.
* Lead trial counsel on the successful derivative claim made by one 50% shareholder against his fellow 50% shareholder, for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud relating to the misappropriation of corporate assets.
* Defeated summary judgment in a federal disparate treatment/disparate impact age discrimination matter.
* Successfully litigated and obtained a myriad of highly successful settlements in cases involving wage and hour issues, age discrimination claims, race discrimination claims and sexual harassment allegations.
* Successfully represented a local construction company at a jury trial, obtaining a successful breach of contract verdict and a full damages award on behalf of his client.
* Represented construction products specialty chemical company in cost recovery and wrongful death lawsuits arising from ceiling collapse in I-90 Connector Tunnel on Big Dig project in Boston.
* Litigated and ultimately negotiated highly favorable settlement on behalf of small environmental engineering firm sued under a theory of "alter ego" liability for damages exceeding $1 million.
* Acting as co-counsel, successfully obtained summary judgment as to all claims (including direct and derivative claims) on behalf of a Fortune 500 company sued as a result of an alleged construction site defect.
* Represented Canadian scaffolding manufacturer in a personal injury suit with numerous parties, and assisted in negotiating a highly favorable, global settlement.
Bar Number: 666786
Suffolk University Law School
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