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Cambridge has paid $3.85m to settle case

Workers alleged discrimination

By Amanda Cedrone
Globe Correspondent / May 19, 2012
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The city of Cambridge paid nearly $4 million to settle a workplace discrimination case with two former city employees, according to documents released by the city.

The settlement agreement, signed in October, shows that Mary Wong, formerly executive director of the Cambridge Kids’ Council, and Linda Stamper, a former lawyer for the city, agreed to accept $3.85 million from the city to resolve the discrimination suit brought by the women.

Neither the city nor the employees should claim victory or vindication in the case, the agreement said.

The case began in the late 1990s when Wong, Stamper, and a third woman - Malvina Monteiro - alleged racial discrimination in the workplace and accused city officials of retaliating against them for speaking out about it.

Monteiro won a multimillion-dollar jury verdict in Middlesex Superior Court, a decision that was upheld by the state Appeals Court in August 2011.

City officials did not release the details of the settlement agreement with Wong and Stamper at the time it was signed. Donald A. Drisdell, former city solicitor, denied the request of Scott Wachtler, editor at the Cambridge Chronicle/Wicked Local Cambridge, to obtain a copy of the agreement. City officials said it was protected under privacy law, and Wachtler filed an appeal.

In a letter addressed to Nancy Glowa, acting Cambridge city solicitor, and dated Monday, state Secretary William F. Galvin sided with Wachtler. “The public interest in the financial information outweighs a privacy interest where the financial compensation in question is drawn on an account held by a government entity and comprised of taxpayer funds,’’ he wrote.

Galvin also wrote that the information protected under privacy law can be redacted in the copy of the document that is released, and therefore the city cannot withhold the entire document. He ordered Glowa to release it.

In an e-mail Friday night, Glowa explained the city’s decision to release the agreement.

“The city continues to believe that there are privacy interests of city employees at stake which would justify withholding the settlement agreement under both the privacy and personnel exemptions to the public records law,’’ she said. “We have, however, decided not to contest the administrative order of the supervisor of public records.’’

Ellen Zucker, a lawyer who represents Wong, Stamper, and Monteiro, said she and her clients pursued the suits not for financial gain, but to draw attention to the problems they believed existed in the way the city conducted its business.

“I hope that the municipal leaders in the city of Cambridge take a step back and consider the lessons to be learned from the rather courageous challenges brought by Mary Wong, Linda Stamper, and Malvina Monteiro,’’ Zucker said.

Amanda Cedrone can be reached at acedrone@globe.com.

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