Ex-banker claims sex discrimination

January 06, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

A former senior vice president for Carroll County Bank & Trust Co. has filed a sex discrimination suit against the Westminster-based bank, claiming she was paid less than her male colleagues.

Barbara S. F. Pease said she repeatedly approached Carroll County Bank president Thomas K. Ferguson between January 1988 and May 1992 about the pay inequity, but nothing was done to correct it.

Her civil suit, which includes a retaliation claim, was filed Dec. 29 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Ms. Pease is seeking $200,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages.

Ms. Pease filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when she resigned in September 1992. The commission ruled last September that there was no probable cause, for the complaint, Mr. Ferguson said.

Ms. Pease's attorney, John R. Kaye of Columbia, and the EEOC would not reveal the commission's decision, citing confidentiality, yesterday.

"We don't think this has any merit," Mr. Ferguson said of the lawsuit. "We don't discriminate, we don't think we've done anything wrong, and we're going to defend it."

Mr. Kaye declined to comment on the suit because the defendants had not yet been served with copies of it.

"Everyone had hoped this would be resolved without going to litigation," Mr. Kaye said, referring to the EEOC complaint. "It [the suit] is in its infancy. I think it's too early to make a comment at this point."

Ms. Pease claimed she was hired by the bank in June 1987 as a senior vice president and chief financial officer. At that time, Michael Oster, Marcus L. Primm, William Gering and Carl Pollard were the bank's other senior vice presidents, and Edwin Shauck was executive vice president.

Upon Mr. Shauck's retirement in September 1987, Ms. Pease became second in charge at the bank and assumed Mr. Shauck's responsibilities without an increase in pay, the suit said. She also took over payroll duties about the same time, Ms. Pease said.

The suit claims Ms. Pease learned in January 1988 that Mr. Oster was receiving a significantly higher salary than she. When she brought that to Mr. Ferguson's attention, he said he recognized the inequity and would increase her pay.

In early 1988, Ms. Pease assumed responsibility for strategic planning, which Mr. Primm previously had done, the suit said. She also assumed responsibility for bank operations in October 1991 when Mr. Pollard's position was eliminated, and she allegedly was told again by Mr. Ferguson her pay would be increased.

Ms. Pease's suit said she met with Mr. Ferguson in November 1991 to discuss her pay, and again he said he would remedy the situation.

When Mason-Dixon Bancshares Inc., the bank's holding company, was created in March 1992, Ms. Pease was designated senior vice president, the suit said. Mr. Oster was not given any additional responsibilities, but Ms. Pease continued to receive a lower salary, her suit said.

She met with Mr. Ferguson in April and May 1992, and said if the situation was not corrected she would resign Oct. 31, 1992. The suit claims that Mr. Ferguson initially said the pay inequity was being addressed by the bank, but that September he told her the board of directors had voted not to adjust her pay and would accept her resignation.

Ms. Pease was allowed to resign immediately, her suit said.

Ms. Pease now lives in Severna Park and heads Property Tax Reduction Specialists, a business that represents property owners in assessment appeals. She started her business one year before she left the bank in September 1992.

While she was in Carroll County, Ms. Pease was an active member of the county Democratic Central Committee and served on the Carroll charter board, which drafted a proposal to replace the current commissioner system with a charter government. Voters defeated the plan in November 1992.

Damian L. Halstad replaced Ms. Pease when she resigned from the central committee in February.

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