Rollins received severance agreement from Massport

Package included $175,000 plus $45,000 for Harvard program

SUFFOLK COUNTY District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who was nominated last week by President Biden to become the next US attorney for the District of Massachusetts, has a very strong resume, but it doesn’t tell the full story about one of her past jobs.

Rollins has worked at two Boston law firms and as an assistant US attorney in Boston. She also served as general counsel to three state transportation agencies: the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the MBTA, and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

But her stint at Massport came with a puzzling coda. Information obtained under the state’s public records law and from Massport officials indicates she left with a $175,000 severance agreement plus a $45,000 educational benefit.

The severance payout included $154,500 in “salary continuation payments” over a period of nine months, $18,334 for accrued but unused vacation time, and about $2,000 in health benefits. The $45,000 educational benefit allowed her to attend a full-time, eight-month leadership development program at Harvard Business School.

Aside from the payment for unused vacation time, Rollins, as an employee at will, was not entitled to any financial payments from Massport.

Under the eight-page severance agreement, Rollins waived all her rights to sue Massport for a laundry list of things, including for more money, race discrimination, and age discrimination. The agreement also says that Massport agrees that its senior executives and its board members “will not make any disparaging or derogatory statements in public or private regarding Ms. Rollins, her employment, or the termination of her employment with Massport.”

While the language and tone are typical of severance agreements involving parties who part ways at odds with each other, Massport officials and a spokesman for Rollins say that was not the case here.

“In the summer of 2015, Rachael indicated her interest in resigning over the next few months to pursue broader career goals,” Massport said in a statement the agency released along with the severance agreement. “An agreement was reached with Rachael to become available as an advisor to the new leadership of the general counsel’s office over a transition of approximately nine months” to help with some ongoing high-profile matters if needed.

Yet the severance agreement never mentions that Rollins would continue to serve as an advisor to Massport, an unusual omission if that was the intent of the agreement. The agreement also makes no mention of the fact that Massport would foot the $45,000 bill for her to attend Harvard Business School.

Tom Glynn, who was the CEO at Massport during Rollins tenure, is one of her biggest cheerleaders. In an interview, he praised her stint at the authority. And when the Boston Globe reported in April that Rollins was in the final stages of being vetted for the US attorney’s job, Glynn was quoted as saying she would bring a valuable breadth of experience to the job.

Through her spokesman, Rollins declined a request for an interview. Written questions regarding her work at Massport were subsequently submitted, but went unanswered. 

Instead, her spokesman, Matt Brelis, said Rollins and Glynn are in frequent touch and she views him as a mentor. “The DA remains incredibly grateful to Tom Glynn for seeing in her the leadership and management potential she hadn’t yet seen in herself,” he said.