Farmers National settles bias chargesFarmers National Bank...


January 22, 1993|By Kim Clark

Farmers National settles bias charges

Farmers National Bank in Annapolis has settled charges that it illegally discriminated against 13 female managers by paying them less than men with the same duties.

But the bank and the federal government still are feuding over just how much the women should get.

Joseph DuBray, regional director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance, said the bank agreed to pay a total of $136,400 in back pay and raises to the women, who ranged in rank from auditors to vice presidents.

The bank's attorney, Jim Gillece, says the dollar amount is much smaller, but won't say how much it is.

The two sides agree that the bank didn't admit it violated equal employment opportunity laws in the settlement.

Five of the women's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sex discrimination charges also were settled as part of the agreement.

Mr. DuBray said his office's investigators found that some of the female vice presidents earned about 30 percent less than male vice presidents. The female branch managers earned from 5 percent to 10 percent less than their male colleagues, he said.

In some cases, female employees had different titles than men, though they had similar duties, he said.

Mr. Gillece disputed Mr. DuBray's pay disparity numbers. He said the bank agreed to settle the case because executives realized they "could be doing a better job with certain women."

Marylanders prepare for workplace reforms

As President Clinton readies his promised "100-day" rush to reform, Maryland workers and employers are preparing for new laws affecting life at work, including health care reform and family leave provisions.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce, which opposes plans to require employers to give workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for births or family emergencies, expects a federal leave law to be passed soon.

The chamber doesn't like the idea because it will cost its members money and appears to create a "right" to a job, says chamber spokesman Miles Cole. "Every time you encroach upon the employer-employee relationship, it is very troublesome."

But the criticism from employers is muted. Many believe employees should get some leave.

Meanwhile, there is wide disagreement over the best way to handle health care.

Health care reform is the No. 1 concern for veterinarian Jane Brunt, employer of 22 people at the Cat Hospital at Towson.

But she wants Mr. Clinton to develop a plan that allows workers to choose their own plans and doctors, and she doesn't want the federal government too involved.

Dr. Brunt says she doesn't mind the idea of family leave, but

hasn't decided how long a leave would be appropriate.

Morton Spero, a part owner of Maryland Pools Inc., says that despite his support of former President Bush, he's all for the federal government taking over his health care hassles -- even if that means socialized medicine.

"There should be national health insurance where everybody is covered," and the government limits fees, he says. "It would be socialized medicine, like the Canadian system."

And to make everybody feel better, Mr. Spero, who oversees a skeleton crew of about 20 in the winter and takes on about 80 pool-builders in the summer, says he'd also grant "one bottle of good bourbon for everyone."

Ships officers' union re-elects president

The overseas mail is in, and the 7,000 members of the Linthicum-based International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots union have re-elected Timothy A. Brown president.

Mr. Brown first won election to lead the union that represents officers on U.S.-flagged ships around the world in 1988, after federal officials found evidence of ballot fraud in a polling place in Panama.

But Mr. Brown, who billed himself as a reformer, soon became embroiled in controversial dealings. At one point, Mr. Brown tried to replace the union's attorney, but the governing board blocked him. So he hired his attorney as a $78,000-a-year "clerk." The board then fired the "clerk."

Female lawyer, firm settle bias suit

There's been a settlement in the lawsuit that aired the behind-the-scenes jockeying that goes on at law firms as associates attempt to win a partner's title and a share of the profits.

Janet M. Truhe charged that Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, one of Baltimore's biggest and most prominent law firms, denied her a partnership because of sexual bias.

A source close to the case confirmed a Daily Record report that Ms. Truhe got about $250,000 in the settlement.

But Geoffrey Mitchell, managing partner of Semmes, and Ms. Truhe, who is now a partner specializing in insurance defense work for the Baltimore law firm of Bernstein, Sakellaris & Ward, said they had agreed not to comment on the settlement.

In the testimony that is part of her filing at federal district court in Baltimore, Ms. Truhe described an atmosphere of Byzantine office politics, in which partners campaigned for their favorites.

Semmes said that Ms. Truhe was denied a partnership because of questions about her abilities.

Ms. Truhe said she was turned down because some partners, even some female partners, didn't want more women at the top.

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