Jacques blames job loss on Patrick retaliation

Ex-senator says lawsuit prompted replacement

 

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Cheryl Jacques, an administrative judge and former lawmaker, is preparing to sue Gov. Deval Patrick, claiming he nominated someone else to replace her at the Department of Industrial Accidents as retaliation for a gender discrimination lawsuit she and two other judges filed against the agency.

The lawsuit against the Department of Industrial Accidents, which resolves workers compensation disputes, alleges the agency provided a heftier salary and a Boston parking space to a male judge appointed after the women.

A former Democratic state senator, Jacques was joined in 2013 by her fellow administrative judges, Kalina Vendetti and Christina Poulter, in a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination charge against the agency, which falls under the Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Jacques was the first of the three up for re-appointment.

A spokeswoman for the secretariat said it is not unusual for an administrative judge not to be reappointed and said Jacques’s term ended in March, while declining to comment further.

“Governor Patrick appreciates Judge Jacques’ many years of service to the Commonwealth,” said a spokeswoman for Patrick, declining to comment further.

Jacques referred questions to her attorney, Kevin Powers, who said his client had been approved by the nominating committee but Patrick chose not to select her.

“It doesn’t make sense that he would not reappoint a sitting judge who has good reviews, has done a great job, and is quite qualified,” said Powers. He added: “It doesn’t make sense, and the timing indicates to me that the governor is retaliating.”

Powers said the MCAD charges have not been resolved and negotiations have ended. He said he intends to file suit in Suffolk Superior Court and to name Patrick as a defendant “personally.”

David Gerard Braithwaite, a Milton resident and workers compensation lawyer, has been nominated to a six-year term to replace Jacques.

Unlike judges in the judiciary, DIA administrative judges appear before the eight-member Governor’s Council for reappointment, and several councilors recently chafed at the 30-day window ending Dec. 18 to vet six DIA nominees, including three reappointments, before they automatically become judges.

A former state senator from Needham, Jacques wrote to her former colleagues in the Legislature in a Saturday email, describing Patrick’s actions as “truly reprehensible” and asking for their help “weighing in” with the Governor’s Council to “stop him from blatant retaliation.”

“I care deeply about the plight of the injured worker and a fair judicial process,” Jacques wrote, describing her effort as a “battle to achieve equal pay for equal work.”

Jacques, who started in 2008 and earned $100,467 in 2013, objected to the treatment of Judge Michael Williams, who she claims started in 2013 and received a salary of $101,510 and a parking space. Williams is black, according to the MCAD complaint.

The complaint also says former Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne Goldstein told the DIA’s senior judge, Omar Hernandez, that she needed to pay Williams that amount and “we don’t have any black judges,” overruling Hernandez by awarding Williams a parking space.

According to the MCAD complaint filed by the three, Goldstein said in a meeting that the judges in the department are “too pale, stale, and male.”

Goldstein left the administration early this year to take a post at Northeastern University and she was replaced by Rachel Kaprielian. Poulter says she is a Latina while Jacques and Vendetti both describe themselves as white. All three women described similar salary disparities with Williams.

Powers said that, since the complaints, the department has standardized the salaries for the administrative judges. According to Powers and the MCAD complaint, Hernandez gave the three women judges stricter oversight after the MCAD charge.

In an MCAD filing, Vendetti said Hernandez “chided” her this past June for calling in sick, and at a March 2014 Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys dinner he “refused” to shake her hand, creating a “climate of hostility that now exists within the Department.”

Hernandez allegedly limited Jacques’s ability to set her own schedule and issued a “written warning” to her in August 2013, threatening her with “termination.”

Powers said Hernandez gave a warning to Jacques “over some insignificant issue,” and described the alleged retaliation generally as “basically ostracizing them, micromanaging them, not letting them set their own schedules, verbally criticizing them. Things like that.”

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