Melinda B. Kaufmann is a knowledgeable and thoughtful advisor who strives to assist boards of education and employers understand and apply the myriad of changing laws that effect their business. When it becomes necessary, she is a powerful advocate both in court and before administrative agencies. In addition to her law degree, Melinda has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and taught special education and mathematics for five years prior to becoming an attorney. This gives her a unique insight into the challenges faced by schools.
Melinda successfully defended a board of education in the first special education federal jury trial in the country. She has extensive experience representing boards of education before state and federal agencies, including the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, the State Board of Labor Relations, and in arbitrations before American Arbitration Association arbitrators. She also has represented boards of education before the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights on claims of disability and race/national origin discrimination and the Connecticut State Department of Education and is certified as a Civil Rights Investigator through ATIXA. Melinda has successfully defended employers in federal jury trials involving the Americans with Disabilities Act and the First Amendment rights of employees.
Melinda has defended employers and their individual officers, agents and employees in federal and state courts and before federal and state agencies regarding various issues including: discrimination, retaliation and harassment claims under Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, whistleblower claims, constitutional claims under Section 1983, First Amendment, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and various employment-related tort claims. Melinda routinely negotiates collective bargaining agreements.
Melinda frequently provides employee training on topics such as sexual harassment, special education, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, student discipline, discrimination, the ADA, the Family Medical Leave Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
Connecticut School Attorneys Council - president
Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame - trustee
ATIXA - certified civil rights investigator
- Prevailed on summary judgment at the Federal District Court when a non-tenured teacher claimed her contract was not renewed because of her ethnicity.
- Successfully defended through the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit a board of education accused of discriminating and retaliating against an administrator in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it demoted the administrator.
- Successfully defended, through the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a board of education against a claim of national origin by a teacher who had been terminated for cause.
- Successfully defended, through the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a board of education against a claim of disability discrimination after it terminated an employee who was found to be under the influence of alcohol during work hours.
- Prevailed on summary judgment against a claim by a teacher who alleged her employment was not renewed because of whistleblower activity.
- Defense of employers against claims of employment discrimination based on age, race, national original, pregnancy, disability, gender and gender orientation, before the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Defended employers in federal and state court involving claims of discrimination including age, race, disability, retaliation, First Amendment rights of employees, whistleblower claims, and constitutional claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.
- Successfully defended boards of education against grievances brought to arbitration involving employee discipline, denials of transfer, lack of employee parking, contract interpretation and other conditions of employment.
- Defense of employers before the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
- Provided employers with training on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Advised employers on all aspects of the employment relationship including employee discipline, accommodating employees with disabilities, the application of the Family Medical Leave Act.
- Defense of employers before the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration and the State Board of Labor Relations.
- Collectively bargained contracts with unions representing various non-certified public employees.
News & Insights
- Zoom Video, 09.23.2020
- Zoom Webinar, 07.29.2020
- GoTo Meeting Webinar, 07.10.2020
- GoToMeeting Webinar, 06.04.2020
- GoTo Meeting Webinar, 05.12.2020
- School Law Attorneys Kaufmann, Schurin and Sommaruga Lead Workshops at November CABE/CAPSS ConventionMystic Marriott Hotel, Groton, Connecticut, 11.15.2019
- The Connecticut Association of Schools, 11.01.2019
- Courtyard Waterbury Downtown, 10.29.2019
- One Size Doesn’t Fit All: New EEOC Guidance Cautions Employers to Take an Individualized Approach in Returning ‘At-Risk’ Employees to Work in the Wake of COVID-1905.27.2020
- Developments from the 2019 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly: New Laws Affecting the Schools (and Public Employers)08.05.2019
Our attorneys routinely advise our clients on best practices to meet the challenges presented by dramatic changes in labor and employment laws.
Bar and Court Admissions
- U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut
- U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
William and Mary School of Law, J.D., Order of the Coif, 1998
The College of Saint Rose, M.S., 1990
University of Albany, B.S., summa cum laude, 1989