Press Release

The NAACP Recognizes Attorney Ellen Zucker for her Leadership in the Pursuit of Social Justice

February 8, 2012


Ellen Zucker, partner at Burns & Levinson LLP, will be recognized by the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) at its annual Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast. Zucker is receiving the NAACP’s Drum Major Award for Justice award in recognition of her work advancing civil rights in the pursuit of social justice.

The award will be presented at the annual breakfast held by the Cambridge NAACP on February 11th at 9 a.m. at the Marriot Hotel in Cambridge. The event honors individuals whose life and work exemplify the mission of the NAACP and the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Reacting to news of the award, Zucker stated: “In cases like NAACP v. Button, NAACP v. Alabama, and NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware, the NAACP has cleared the path to the courts for those seeking to protect civil rights and advance the cause of equality in this country. To be honored by this preeminent civil rights organization is tremendously gratifying. I am humbled by the honor, but I must confess something: lawyers are the fortunate ones when we get the chance to represent an individual whose integrity we trust and whose cause is just. We are not the heroes; our clients are. It is they who are courageous; it is they who shine a light on discriminatory and unlawful practices that all-too-often go unchallenged. And it is they who dare to ask, as this organization has done for so many years, for justice. With this award, the NAACP honors not my journey but my clients’. I thank the NAACP – and my clients for trusting me and allowing me the opportunity to assist them in seeking justice.”

During her career, Zucker has repeatedly championed civil rights in the workplace. Among other victories, Zucker argued and won Warfield v. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center et al., before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, helping to preserve plaintiffs’ access to the courts when they allege discrimination in the workplace. She also served as lead trial and appellate counsel in Monteiro v. the City of Cambridge, where she argued that the City of Cambridge had “engaged in a systematic campaign to punish” its employee, Malvina Monteiro, for having filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and pursued her legal rights. The jury, the trial court and the Appeals Court agreed. In August of 2011, the Appeals Court affirmed the jury’s verdicts, including the award of $3.5 million in punitive damages for conduct found to be “outrageous.” After a decade of litigation, the City of Cambridge was ultimately obliged to pay a judgment over $8 million to Ms. Monteiro. The City then resolved the claims of two other former employees represented by Zucker, who had, along with Monteiro, filed claims of discrimination and retaliation against the City.

“It’s truly a blessing that I found an Attorney like Ellen Zucker,” said Malvina Monteiro. “I have never seen an attorney work so hard. Her loyalty and commitment to the case; her everlasting patience and determination; and her deep knowledge of the law made us stay in the road. I am grateful for her careful counseling, for her unyielding availability throughout these long years, and for her precious legal advice, which in the United States is truly invaluable.”

“Despite the work ahead of us, we deeply believe that individuals who are dedicated to inclusion can make an immense difference in the lives of many,” said Kathy Reddick, president of the Cambridge NAACP. “The NAACP honors Ellen Zucker, whose life’s work is dedicated to the maintenance and protection of civil rights for all people. We celebrate the achievements of Ellen and thank her for her unyielding commitment to making a difference in lives of the people of Cambridge.”

Revered Nelson Rivers, III, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations for the NAACP, will keynote the Breakfast. Tickets are available from the Cambridge NAACP branch for $60.00. They can be reached at 617-895-7760.

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