Tag Archive for: Greater Boston Legal Services

Jury finds Boston-area pizza shop owner guilty of forcing immigrants to work

Below is text from a June 7 Boston Globe about Stash Pizza owner Stavros “Steve” Papantoniadis, who was recently found guilty in federal court for violating labor laws. Greater Boston Legal Services represented a group of former employees who testified as witnesses in the case against Papantoniadis.

by Shelley Murphy

The owner of Stash’s pizza shops was found guilty Friday of federal charges that he forced undocumented immigrants to work long hours without fair pay at his restaurants around Greater Boston by using violence, intimidation and threats to have them deported.

Stavros “Steve” Papantoniadis, 49, of Westwood, was convicted following a two-week trial in US District Court on three counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor. He was acquitted of another forced labor charge.

US District Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled a Sept. 12 sentencing date for Papantoniadis, who has been held without bail since his arrest in March 2023. Defense lawyers said it’s unclear how much prison time he faces under federal sentencing guidelines.

“The jury’s verdict sends a powerful message to employers who think they can take advantage of undocumented immigrants,” Audrey Richardson, managing attorney of Greater Boston Legal Services Employment Law Unit, which represents five immigrant workers who testified at the trial, said in a statement.

Acting US Attorney Joshua S. Levy, whose office prosecuted the case, said in a statement that, “Forced labor is a serious violation of human rights, and no one in the United States should live in fear of abuse and coercion in their workplace.”

Two of Papantoniadis’s lawyers, Steven Boozang and Carmine P, Lepore, said they were disappointed by the verdict. They cited evidence that the seven alleged victims had been in the United States illegally, but were granted visas that allow them to live and work here legally after being identified as victims in the case against Papantoniadis.

“The government’s case, I think, was built on seven people who showed they had no problem saying what they had to say and fabricating things so they could attain a certain status in this country,” Lepore said.

“None of these people were victims,” Boozang said. “They were complete and utter opportunists.”

But prosecutors argued during the trial that Papantoniadis purposely hired workers who entered or remained in the United States illegally, knowing they feared deportation and were unlikely to report him to authorities.

Julie Dahlstrom, director of the Boston University School of Law’s Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program, which represented another immigrant who testified, said the verdict was “a testament to the brave workers who came forward” and comes as the result of heightened attention to human trafficking and increased enforcement to combat it.

“Labor trafficking cases can be hard to investigate and prosecute because they depend on survivor testimony, and many survivors fear reprisals when stepping forward,” Dahlstrom said in a statement.

Papantoniadis currently owns and operates pizzerias in Dorchester and Roslindale, and previously operated shops in Norwood, Norwell, Randolph, Weymouth, and Wareham. Prosecutors alleged he forced undocumented immigrants to work long hours by attacking them and threatening to have them deported if they tried to quit or, in some cases, just wanted a day off.

The workers were often paid in cash and not given full pay for their overtime hours, prosecutors alleged. Prosecutors allege that seven immigrants were victimized by Papantoniadis over 15 years starting around 2007.

“They all learned along the way that regardless of the pay they were not free to leave without suffering serious harm,” Assistant US Attorney Brian Alexander Fogerty told jurors during opening statements.

When a Salvadoran worker quit after he was refused a day off, Papantoniadis chased after him in his car and called police, falsely reporting that the worker had struck his vehicle, the prosecutor said.

But Lepore told jurors during his opening remarks that the employees wanted to work long hours to support their families back home.

“There is not one person who worked for him that didn’t walk in that door on their own and ask for a job,” he said.

The one forced labor count that Papantoniadis was acquitted of involved a worker from Egypt who alleged Papantoniadis kicked him in the genitals and knocked his teeth out with a punch.

During the trial, Tharcisio Carmo, a Brazilian native, testified that Papantoniadis “would get really pissed when someone asked for the day off.”

Carmo recounted serving as a translator in 2013 for a Brazilian worker, Tiago, who asked him to tell Papantoniadis that he wanted to quit. Papantoniadis was “pretty upset” and Tiago told him, “You’ve got to respect me,” Carmo testified.

“Steve just punched him and grabbed him by the throat,” ripping his shirt, Carmo said.

Papantoniadis yelled at Tiago, “Come here [expletive], I’m going to break you,” Carmo told jurors.

Rental Applicants Using Housing Vouchers Settle Ground-Breaking Discrimination Class Action Against SafeRent Solutions (ABC)

Below is an excerpt from an article published by ABC on April 26 about a settlement that, if approved, will provide over $2 million to tenants with housing vouchers who were disproportionately discriminated against by SafeRent Solutions and its algorithmic screening program. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Senior Housing Attorney Todd Kaplan and National Consumer Law Center’s Shennan Kavanagh are quoted.


BOSTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / April 26, 2024 / On April 25, 2024, the Honorable Angel Kelley for the United States District Court of Massachusetts allowed a $2.275 million settlement on behalf of Massachusetts housing voucher recipients to move forward, certifying the settlement classes and directing notice to be sent to class members. The Court will hold a final approval hearing in November. The settlement, if finally approved, will resolve a lawsuit against SafeRent Solutions, a national tenant screening provider formerly known as CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, claiming that SafeRent’s algorithmic tenant screening program (the “SafeRent Score”) disproportionately harmed housing voucher recipients, including Black and Hispanic individuals, under Massachusetts law protecting individuals based on their source of income and race. In July 2023, the Court denied SafeRent’s motion to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Massachusetts Discrimination Law claims.

The pending settlement provides for significant injunctive relief to tenant applicants who rely on vouchers and may be subjected to SafeRent tenant screening. It would require a more robust evaluation of prospective housing voucher tenants’ eligibility for housing based on their full record rather than relying on a score derived though an algorithm. If SafeRent develops another tenant screening score it wishes to use after five years, it would have to be validated by an independent third-party organization agreed to by the Plaintiffs. This injunctive relief would establish precedent for the tenant screening industry.

Read more here.

Court ruling turns up heat on Mass. tax lien law that costs homeowners their equity (GBH)

Below is an excerpt from an article published by GBH on April 22 highlighting a recent Hampden County court case decision that cracks down on predatory Massachusetts tax lien practices. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Senior Housing Attorney Todd Kaplan is quoted


A new ruling from the Hampden Superior Court in Springfield has found that a Massachusetts law permitting cities and towns to take homes or other real estate from tax delinquent owners – including their equity – is unconstitutional.

The ruling echoes a similar conclusion from the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The Hampden decision marks the first time a Massachusetts court has declared unconstitutional this longstanding practice by dozens of cities and towns in the state. Housing attorneys and lawmakers told GBH News it could spur more action by state courts and the legislature to abolish the practice.

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously that tax lien foreclosures that also take property owners’ equity — beyond the tax bills they owe — are unconstitutional. And many critics say Massachusetts has acted too slowly to bring its laws in line with nation’s highest court’s decision.

Read more at GBH.

‘Transformative’ agreement will help thousands of people leave Mass. nursing homes

Below is an excerpt from an article published by GBH on April 17 discussing a recent agreement that will help thousands of Massachusetts residents transition out of nursing homes. Center for Public Representation’s Steven Schwartz and Greater Boston Legal Services’ Deborah Filler are quoted


Thousands of people who have been “warehoused” in Massachusetts nursing homes due to insufficient alternatives could soon receive the support they need to live independently.

Gov. Maura Healey’s administration on Tuesday announced that they reached an agreement on a federal class action lawsuit, filed in October 2022 in Boston, which contended Massachusetts was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing tens of thousands of people with disabilities to languish in nursing facilities, even though they could live on their own with proper support services. The David Marsters v. Maura Healey agreement, still subject to court approval, will expand and create new programs to help people transition out of facilities.

Disability advocates are praising the agreement and its potential to dramatically restructure how the state supports elderly residents and people with disabilities.

“We really believe it’s going to transform Massachusetts’ long-term services for people with disabilities in the community,” said Steven Schwartz, special counsel with the Center for Public Representation, one of the groups that represented the plaintiffs.

Read more at GBH.

Staff Attorney, Housing Unit – GBLS (2 Job Openings)

Greater Boston Legal Services is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) seeks two attorneys to join its Housing Unit as part of its new Neighborhood-Based Eviction Defense Project in partnership with the City of Chelsea.

As this new project begins its operations, the attorneys will work together with local community organizations, La Colaborativa, The Neighborhood Developers (TND), and other groups and City agencies, to develop impact legal work and community lawyering and to implement innovative anti-displacement and housing stabilization strategies across the city.

Responsibilities include: Representing tenants in Housing Court in Chelsea and Boston, staffing Lawyer for the Day programs in court, Staffing housing clinics in several locations in Chelsea, advising tenants and community partners on various legal housing matters, and conducting community trainings. The attorneys will also be required to maintain regular communications with various interested groups and agencies. Occasional weekend and evening hours may be required.

This position is based in our Boston office and may also include some of the full range of activities of the Housing Unit, including support for tenants who live in public and subsidized housing, helping tenant organizations preserve affordable housing, shelter advocacy, legislative and administrative advocacy projects, impact litigation, and any other work of the Housing Unit. Should funding for this position change, the attorney may be required to assume work in a different area of law within GBLS.

Qualifications: Admission to, or comity with, the Massachusetts Bar, or those sitting for July 2024 Bar Exam. 0 to 5 years of experience is preferred. Prior housing law and/or trial experience is preferred. Fluency in Spanish is strongly desired. Attorneys with lived experience of displacement or gentrification are encouraged to apply.

Salary is based on a union scale with a starting salary of $72,000 for an attorney with no experience to approximately $79,500 for an attorney with 5 years of experience. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys, and generous PTO leave.

Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume and a brief writing sample to the Human Resources Department via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: HU-ATT when applying for this position. Application will be reviewed on a rolling basis after April 22, 2024.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Exceptional Women in the Greater Boston area (Boston Globe)

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Boston Globe recognizes numerous women in the Greater Boston area for their extraordinary work, including Greater Boston Legal Services’ Hannah Tanabe. Below is an excerpt of the article on Hannah. 


Hannah Tanabe. Hannah, in her capacity as a senior attorney in the Employment Law Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services, protects the rights of the most vulnerable workers — those most likely to be taken advantage of, and least likely to successfully navigate the complex administrative and legal avenues necessary to enforce their rights and protections. During the height of the COVID pandemic, Hannah shouldered the burden of spearheading GBLS’s response to the tidal wave of unemployment insurance cases, and in the process, she became an expert in the field, which has led to wider scale advocacy around systemic changes to make the unemployment insurance system more accessible and responsive to real-world challenges. In addition to her large portfolio of individual representation cases and systemic advocacy projects, Hannah has also served as a mentor and supervisor, both formally and informally, for multiple younger attorneys, sharing her insights, values, and expertise to ensure that this next generation of attorneys is best situated to provide the advocacy necessary to respond to the next iteration of challenges for clients. Most importantly, beyond her work as an advocate, Hannah is an incredible mother to an energetic toddler, and a caring and attentive friend. She anticipates the needs of others, and offers help and support before anyone even realizes they need it. Originally from Hawaii, Hannah came to Boston in 2012, laid down strong roots, and has enmeshed herself in the city that has become her home.” -Nominated by her husband, Adam Logan from Malden

Read more at the Boston Globe.

‘Not a fair fight.’ Advocates, officials push to provide free legal aid to low-income tenants fighting eviction. (Boston Globe)

Below is an article published on March 1 by The Boston Globe highlighting the experiences of those facing housing legal issues without proper representation and the need for the right to counsel in Boston. Greater Boston Legal Services attorney Laura Massie and Mass Law Reform Institute attorney Annette Duke are quoted.


When 45-year-old Mary Barrera stood before a judge in the Eastern Division of the Massachusetts Housing Court last year, she was terrified. And she was alone.

Originally from Colombia and living in the United States without legal status, Barrera was facing eviction from her three-bedroom apartment in East Boston, where she and two of her adult children have lived for nearly eight years. They normally split the $2,500 monthly rent, but after briefly losing their jobs during the pandemic, fell behind for one month.

Barrera said they were able to resume paying the following month, but when they couldn’t pay what they owed in full, their landlord moved to evict them.

When the case went to trial, Barrera’s landlord had a lawyer with her. Barrera — with limited English, little understanding of the complex legal system, and homelessness a very real threat — was on her own.

“It’s an experience that I don’t wish on anyone,” Barrera told the Globe with the help of a translator. “It causes all kinds of things — worry, desperation, stress.”

Housing advocates say Barrera’s story is all too common and demonstrates a critical inequity in the current housing court system — which is even more dire given the state’s overburdened emergency shelter system.

Read more at the Boston Globe.

Intake Specialist – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

GBLS provides free legal services and representation to clients in the greater Boston area who cannot afford private legal representation.

GBLS is seeking a full-time Intake Specialist who will have primary responsibility for assisting applicants for legal services with the eligibility screening process. For clients who are not eligible for GBLS’ services or do not have a legal problem, the Intake Specialist will provide referrals to other organizations who are likely to be able to assist the applicants with their situation. The Intake Specialist will spend a significant amount of time on the telephone. Their role is to provide applicants with a welcoming, professional and supportive experience. Bilingual applicants are especially encouraged to apply. This position will be hybrid, with some in-office time and some remote work.

Core Responsibilities:

The Intake Specialist will be directly responsible for the following:

  • Assisting applicants through the eligibility screening process for both the telephone and online intake channels.
  • Providing referral information to applicants who are found to be ineligible for GBLS’ services or who do not have a legal issue.
  • Handling confidential client information discretely.
  • Entering confidential client information into the intake form in the program’s case management system.
  • Working closely with GBLS support staff, leadership, and practice group leaders to provide thorough, accurate, and efficient intake services to applicants.
  • Developing strong working relationships with GBLS staff.
  • Developing a thorough understanding of the case types accepted by GBLS and staying abreast of changes
  • Interacting with applicants, clients, staff, community partners, and the public in an empathetic, supportive, professional, and welcoming manner.
  • Providing assistance with administrative and support functions as needed by the program.

Qualifications:

  • 1-2 years of prior experience with telephone service in a high call volume environment, with ability to handle a large volume of calls efficiently.
  • Demonstrated experience with providing culturally sensitive and accessible services to diverse, low-income client communities.
  • Ability and comfort level with collecting personal and confidential information from applicants.
  • Comfortable with technology and possessing the ability to master new applications quickly; familiarity with LegalServer and Windows Office Suite (Word, Excel, etc.) a plus.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Strong time management skills.
  • Commitment to poverty law issues.
  • Bilingual capabilities, especially in Haitian Creole, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, or any other languages frequently used by GBLS clients, are desirable.

Salary is based on a union scale with annual raises and in which, for example, someone with 4 to 6 years of experience (including certain educational experiences) would earn between $45,500 and $47,500, with an additional $950 annual payment for second language ability. GBLS offers a generous benefits package including low-cost comprehensive health insurance, retirement contribution, paid time off, and ongoing professional development opportunities. GBLS currently has a hybrid work model for all staff.

Candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to the GBLS Human Resources Team by email to jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: CSU-INTAKE when applying for this position. Deadline for application is March 15th, 2024, or until position is filled.

GBLS encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Senior Attorney, Housing Unit – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services seeks a litigation attorney with 10 years of experience or more to work in the Housing Unit, focusing on representing tenants at risk of eviction.

The threat of homelessness places unbearable stress on individuals and families in our community and rapid development is causing widespread displacement. The Senior Attorney, working as part of the GBLS Housing Unit, will use individual cases to promote systemic change.

The Senior Attorney will supervise staff attorneys, paralegals, interns, and volunteers. This position will also involve direct representation of clients in housing cases, including interviews, factual investigation, research and analysis of law, written and oral legal arguments, evidentiary hearings and trials, negotiation with opposing counsel, as well as preparation for and handling of administrative hearings. The position may also include some of the full range of activities of the Housing Unit, including support for tenants who live in public and subsidized housing, helping tenant organizations preserve affordable housing, shelter advocacy, legislative and administrative advocacy projects, impact litigation, and any other work of the Housing Unit. Should funding for this position change, the attorney may be required to assume work in a different area of law within GBLS.

Qualifications: At least 10 years of experience and admission to the Massachusetts Bar or comity. Trial experience is required, preferably with jury trials. Must have demonstrated experience providing effective supervision and consultation. Experience in housing law is preferred. Written and oral fluency in Spanish or Haitian Creole or another language spoken by GBLS’ clients is preferred. Attorneys with lived experience of displacement or gentrification are encouraged to apply.

Salary is based on a union scale with a starting salary of $92,000 for an attorney with ten years of experience, with increases for additional years of experience. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, retirement contribution, a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys, and generous PTO leave.

Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and a brief writing sample to the Human Resources Department via e-mail at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: HU-SR-ATT when applying for this position. Deadline for application is February 29, 2023, or until the position is filled.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Staff Attorney, Elder, Health and Disability Unit – GBLS

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Accessible Employer and strives to ensure that our staff members reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Greater Boston Legal Services seeks a staff attorney with 0-3 years of experience for a permanent position in the Elder, Health and Disability Unit (“EHD”). Please note GBLS has a hybrid work schedule.

The staff attorney’s responsibilities will include assisting elders with a full range of housing, and state and federal public health and income benefits work. The housing work will include representing elder tenants facing eviction in local district and housing courts and may include representing individual tenants facing Section 8 terminations. The staff attorney will also handle hearings on denials and terminations of SSI/SSDI, SNAP, EAEDC, and MassHealth. The responsibilities may involve administrative advocacy and legislative work on housing or public benefits issues and student supervision as appropriate.

Qualifications: Admission to or comity with the Massachusetts Bar is required. This position is for an attorney with 0-3 years of legal experience. A commitment to social justice is required. Some legal experience in poverty law as well as knowledge of housing law and/or federal (SSI/SSDI,) or state benefits (EAEDC, SNAP, MassHealth) are preferred. The ability to travel to courthouses throughout the GBLS service area and to occasional statewide Housing events (GBLS has a travel expense reimbursement plan). Fluency in Spanish or Haitian/Creole is helpful but not required.

Salary is based on a union scale, which begins at $72,000 for an attorney who has just graduated from law school. GBLS offers a generous benefits package, paid time off, and a student loan repayment assistance plan for eligible attorneys. The attorney will work out of the GBLS Boston office. GBLS has a hybrid work schedule.

Candidates should submit cover letter, resume, and a brief writing sample to the Human Resources Department via email at jobs@gbls.org. Please refer to Job Code: EHD-ATT when applying for this position. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled and reviewed on a rolling basis but applicants are encouraged to submit applications by February 9, 2024.

GBLS values diversity and encourages applicants from a broad range of backgrounds.