Two More Women Claim Discrimination at GPO

Posted July 20, 2007 at 5:55pm

Two employees at the Government Printing Office have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the agency, alleging they were passed over for promotions because they are black women.

In a lawsuit filed July 6 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Denise Colbert and Sheron Minter allege their race and gender were the primary reasons they did not receive jobs as supervisors in the GPO Congressional Publishing Services office in 2006.

“The management of Congressional Publishing Services are biased in favor of white males for positions, such as those in issue, that involve liaison between GPO and Congress,” the plantiffs allege in court documents.

A GPO spokeswoman declined to comment on the case Friday.

“Any personnel action, especially one that’s in the courts, we don’t comment,” said spokeswoman Caroline Scullin.

In December 2005, two supervisory printing services specialist shifts became available in the customer services section of the Congressional Publishing Services office, according to court documents.

At the time, Colbert and Minter both worked as printing services specialists. Colbert worked in the Production Planning Service office, while Minter served in the customer services section of Congressional Publishing Services.

Both applied for the open positions shortly after they were posted, according to the lawsuit. Colbert and Minter claim “no other candidate for either of the positions was more qualified” than the two of them.

But neither was called for an interview, and the two vacancies were filled on Jan. 20, 2006, each by a white male applicant, according to court documents.

“The position was filled by a person not of [their] race, and, on information and belief, race was a substantial factor in the selection,” the lawsuit alleges. “Plaintiff has suffered damages as a proximate and direct result of the discrimination, including but not limited to loss of position, and loss of earnings and benefits.”

Had Colbert and Minter been awarded the supervisory positions, their salaries would have increased more than $10,000, the lawsuit alleges.

The duo is seeking an injunction asking that the GPO promote them to the supervisory printing services specialist position or a comparable post, as well as a second injunction requiring the agency to prevent discrimination in the future.

The women also are seeking $30,000, back pay and lost benefits for what they would have made had they gotten hired in 2006, along with attorneys fees and court costs.

The pair requested a jury trial.

Attorney Theodore Allison, who is representing the women in the lawsuit, did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Colbert and Minter’s lawsuit comes about seven months after four other female employees filed similar separate-but-connected discrimination suits against the GPO.

Tarsha Kelley-Jones, Barbara Reynolds, Shirley Wilson and Michele Stevenson allege they did not get selected for a job as a printing services specialist because they are black women. In June, the GPO filed its response, officially denying it had discriminated against the employees.

A trial date for those cases has not been set.