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Sex bias at E.D.

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Education Department officials discriminated against an employee in the impact-aid office by giving her low job-performance ratings and denying her promotions because she is a woman, a federal jury has ruled.

After finding that the department violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination, the jury earlier this month ordered the agency to pay Mary E. Moran $243,750 in compensation for pain and suffering. Ms. Moran had been a field officer in the impact-aid office for more than eight years until she was transferred in 1993.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has yet to decide whether the department will also be forced to give Ms. Moran a promotion or how much back pay she is entitled to.

Ms. Moran currently works in the office of compensatory education, which administers the Title I program.

Ms. Moran's lawyers said the case is the first in which the federal government's uniform method for grading employees' work, the General Performance Appraisal System, faced a court challenge.

In their complaint, the lawyers, Gary T. Brown and George J. Mazza, said that Ms. Moran applied for 13 promotions within the impact-aid office and lost out to a man each time.

Although they presented documents showing that outside evaluators ranked her as the most qualified applicant for some of the positions, her G.P.A.S. ratings were never "outstanding" or "superior," which is a requirement for promotion in the civil-service system.

The complaint also said that Ms. Moran was denied training and professional-development opportunities and was not assigned the full range of duties that came with her position.

In addition, the complaint said, Ms. Moran was subject to harassment and undue scrutiny after she sought assistance in 1988 through the department's equal-employment-opportunity office.

The complaint said the department had not ruled on any of Ms. Moran's five internal E.E.O. complaints.

Education Department officials declined through a spokesman to comment on the matter.

They referred questions to a Justice Department lawyer who was handling the case, and she did not return phone calls.

--Mark Pitsch

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