Former Nsa Personnel Chief Alleges Age, Sex Discrimination In Federal Lawsuit

35-year Veteran Seeks $300,000 And Back Pay

April 22, 1997|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

A Laurel woman is suing the head of the National Security Agency in federal court, alleging that she was the victim of age and sex discrimination while she worked there.

Mary Craze, a 35-year NSA veteran, was personnel chief for the agency's second-largest division, but never reached the same pay grade as men holding similar jobs, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Craze, 55, is seeking $300,000 and back pay and benefits at the highest pay grade from Lt. Gen. Kenneth A. Minihan, NSA director.

NSA spokeswoman Judi Emmel said the agency does not comment on pending lawsuits.

The NSA is Maryland's largest employer, with a work force estimated at 20,000.

The Fort Meade-based agency, part of the Defense Department, collects information from satellites and listening posts throughout the world, and writes and breaks codes.

The lawsuit says Craze was chosen as Integrated Personnel Activity (IPA) chief to oversee personnel issues for a 600-employee unit in 1991. A year later, she was made IPA chief for an additional 2,000 workers.

Despite her promotions, the suit says, "men who were IPA chiefs and who were paid at higher grade levels, directed IPAs which served far fewer employees."

Craze did not receive a promotion and raise from 1989 until her retirement in December 1995, even though she "repeatedly requested that she be promoted" to pay grade 14 from grade 13, the lawsuit says.

Pay grade 13 has a salary range of $54,629-$71,017; pay grade 14 has a salary range of $64,555-$83,922, according to figures from the Office of Personnel Management.

In June 1995, the NSA promotions board met to deliberate and "board members openly discussed how much longer Ms. Craze would continue to work in light of the fact that her husband had retired. Subsequently, in July 1995, Ms. Craze's name was removed from the promotion recommendation list," the lawsuit says.

Emile Henault Jr., a Glen Burnie lawyer handling five other personnel cases against the agency, says discrimination cases are becoming more common as NSA works to meet a congressional order to cut civilian staffing while also attempting to increase minority hiring.

"The higher echelon is pushing younger people in there. They have to attack older people," said Henault, who retired after 27 years at NSA. "The whole thing is pretty ruthless, and they're making things miserable for those over 40."

In April 1994, the Pentagon inspector general issued a stinging report about NSA's "serious problems" with racial and sexual discrimination.

Emmel said yesterday that the agency has developed a human resources plan that requires training programs and awareness seminars to address the concerns raised in the Pentagon report.

Pub Date: 4/22/97

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