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Postal Worker Can Pursue Discrimination Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (CN) - A Native American woman can amend her discrimination complaint against the United States Postal Service over claims that the company paid a higher salary to a man with similar job duties, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled.

Beverly Martin started working for USPS in 1981, and over the years worked her way up the ranks to become program manger. From 2004 until 2008 Martin headed the office's National Performance Assessment program in the Field Operations Requirements and Planning division.

In March of 2008 USPS promoted a co-worker named Thomas Henry to division manager, a position for which Martin had also applied. She filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission because she believes that Henry was hired based on his gender. Martin says that although she practically shared the same job responsibilities as Henry, he was paid more by USPS.

"Plaintiff alleges that, because of Mr. Henry's gender, he received greater compensation for performing job duties substantially similar to those that Plaintiff performed," the ruling, filed Jan. 26 states.

Martin also claimed that the goals Henry proposed for his division manger stint "were nearly identical to, or encompassed fewer responsibilities than" her goals and duties between 2005 and 2008."

Martin says that not only was Henry ranked higher and paid more for performing the same job duties, he also received health and life insurance perks.

As of July 25, 2008, Martin says Henry earned an annual salary of $115,596.80, while she earned $105,088 at a pay-scale level that does not offer annual leave carry-over, paid life insurance, fully paid health insurance or survivor benefits.

USPS challenged Martin's lawsuit and sought summary judgment, noting that Henry and Martin had different job titles and that Martin had not explained what her salary and job responsibilities were after her last day as program manager.

Judge Mary Ellen Coster Williams' ruling states that the Equal Pay Act focuses on job duties, not job titles, and that USPS failed to substantiate its dismissal motion with enough factual materials.

"In the instant case, Plaintiff has incorporated two exhibits into her complaint - exhibit one, plaintiff's performance rating for fiscal year 2007, and exhibit two, position information for Mr. Henry," Judge Williams wrote.

To clarify the timeframe in which Martin was paid less than Henry because of her gender, the court allowed Martin to file an amended complaint. The defendant's motion was denied without prejudice.

Martin, who seeks more than $10,000 for past and future economic damages, is represented by Joseph Kaplan and Amy Beckett of Passman & Kaplan.

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