A court ruling that Brockton officials discriminated and retaliated against a black job applicant of Cape Verdean descent could cost the city up to $6.5 million, according to the mayor’s office.
A Brockton Superior Court jury in late January awarded Russell Lopes $4.05 million in his civil suit, but the mayor’s chief of staff, Darren Duarte, said that figure is closer to $6.5 million when interest is tallied.
Lopes sued after he was rejected for a Department of Public Works’ mechanic job in 2010, despite his high qualifications. In his lawsuit, he asserted that the city retaliated against him when he complained, sending code enforcement officers to his home.
Mayor Bill Carpenter, who was first elected in 2013, said in a video on the city website that the lawsuit predated his tenure and that he was “more committed than ever that Brockton will be a city of equal opportunity.”
He said that since his election, he has been working “to change that culture” of discrimination in city hiring. Carpenter also said the financial judgment – the largest in Brockton history — would be difficult for the city to absorb.
City Solicitor Philip C. Nessralla Jr. said in a telephone interview that the city used outside counsel and needs to examine the written transcript of the trial before deciding whether to appeal. He said it could take up to three months to get the transcript.
Nessralla also said that the mayor is bringing in a consultant specializing in workplace practices and discrimination to review the city’s hiring process, make recommendations, and conduct training “to try to avoid any recurring allegations” of discrimination. He added that until that review was complete, any personnel or policy changes would be premature.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.