PRISCILLA E. FLINT
CITY OF BOSTON & another.
Heard: February 9, 2018.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on
March 5, 2012. The case was heard by Paul D. Wilson,
J., on a motion for summary judgment.
Quinn-Judge (Monica R. Shah also present) for the plaintiff.
Hodge (John M. Simon also present) for the defendants.
Present: Green, C.J., Henry, & Singh, JJ.
employment discrimination action, Priscilla Flint appeals
from a summary judgment entered in favor of the defendants.
The principal question presented is whether the
plaintiff's administrative complaint was timely. After a
careful review of the record, we conclude that the question
of timeliness cannot be decided as a matter of law.
Accordingly, we reverse the summary judgment on the pay
discrimination claim. However, we agree that summary judgment
was properly granted to the defendants on Flint's
constructive discharge claim and on her breach of contract
summarize the undisputed facts drawn from the summary
judgment record; to the extent the record includes disputed
evidence, we consider that evidence in the light most
favorable to Flint, against whom summary judgment entered.
See Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hosp., 473 Mass. 672, 680
(2016). We focus first on allegations relating to the
timeliness of Flint's claims.
August, 1997, the city of Boston (city) hired Flint, a black
woman, as a payroll accountant in the treasury department.
For the duration of Flint's employment, Vivian Leo, who
is white, held the position of first-assistant
treasurer-collector. By the end of 1997, Flint was promoted
to senior accountant and received a substantial pay raise.
Flint was supervised by Marissa Sheehan. When Sheehan
departed for a two-year special assignment in July, 1998,
Flint accepted an offer from Leo to assume Sheehan's
position as payroll supervisor. This was a position at the
pay grade of middle management 8 (MM-8), and Flint assumed
management of four staff members. Flint also began
performing work for the Boston Teachers' Retirement Fund
Association (teachers' fund), and receiving an
accompanying stipend for these services.
2008, Leo decided to merge the payroll and general services
departments. Leo informed Flint that when the general
services supervisor, Judy Cataldo, retired, she wanted Flint
to manage both departments. When Flint hesitated, Leo stated,
"You will be getting a raise . . . this is a promotion
for you." Leo indicated that Flint would be upgraded to
an MM-9 position, which paid an additional $5, 000 to $10,
000 per year and that the "raise would happen
soon." Flint accepted the offer and began
working in her new role on October 1, 2008.
newly created position substantially increased Flint's
workload and added three staff members under her supervision
for a total of seven. Leo believed that Flint was entitled to
the MM-9 pay rate, retroactive to when Flint assumed the
called two meetings to announce Flint's promotion. At a
general staff meeting, when an employee questioned why the
job had not been posted, Leo responded that she did not have
to post it. At a second meeting, Leo informed the managers
that she wanted to quell rumors questioning whether Flint had
been promoted; Leo stated that Flint was promoted and
"that was that."
or three occasions in the winter and spring of 2009, Leo
assured Flint that she was "working on" the raise
and that Flint would get it. When asked about the delay, Leo
explained that "they were doing something with the
budget." Flint trusted Leo "to do what she said she
would do" because she had promoted Flint twice before
and each time Flint received a pay raise. Flint understood
that Leo had to clear the raise through Lisa Signori, the
city's chief financial officer and the
collector-treasurer, as well as through the city's human
resources department (HR). Flint "did not want to go
over [Leo's] head" to speak with Signori because, at
the time, she had a "very good working
relationship" with Leo, and "could almost call
[Leo] my friend."
next approached Leo on October 1, 2009, stating, "I need
my raise. You promised me a raise. When am I going to get my
raise?" Leo replied that they needed "to wait until
the elections are over. There is [sic] going to be
some new changes." Flint indicated that was
"okay," but repeated that she wanted her raise, and
Leo reiterated that Flint was "going to get it."
Around this time, Flint also spoke to Vivian Leonard, the
city's HR director. Leonard encouraged Flint to
"hang in there," stating that she was "going
to get the raise."
two more promises of a forthcoming raise by Leo in December,
2009, and the spring of 2010 that never came to fruition,
Flint then went out on an extended medical leave for her
second knee replacement. Upon Flint's return to work on
July 15, 2010, Leo informed Flint that she was not getting a
raise, stating, "There is no money in the budget. No one
is getting a raise .... There is nothing I can do. Go talk to
Lisa Signori." Flint did attempt to speak with Signori
the next day, but was advised that Signori was leaving the
also learned in July, 2010, that the teachers' fund work
and accompanying stipend had been discontinued during her
medical leave. Leo denied having a part in the removal,
initially informing Flint that the stipend had been taken
away from the treasury department. When Flint questioned Leo
further, Leo stated that the board of trustees of the
teachers' fund had voted to pay Sheehan for the services
instead of Flint. However, the payroll supervisor for the
Boston public school department informed Flint that Leo sent
a letter asking that the work and accompanying stipend be
taken away from Flint and given to Sheehan. Flint
confronted Leo, who stated that she wrote the letter because
Flint was out on medical leave and was therefore unable to do
the work. Flint never received the work and stipend back.
Leo told Flint she would not be getting a raise, Flint met
with John Zuccaro, the union president, and attempted to file
a grievance over the pay raise denial. Zuccaro told her she
was two years too late, adding in conversation that he had
known Leo for thirty years and had gone to school with
August 26, 2010, Flint submitted a compensation grade appeal
to her union pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement
(CBA) between the city and the union. The city's
office of labor relations date-stamped the appeal as
received. Leonard, a signatory to the CBA on behalf of the