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April 2, 2013

Councilor sues state over her demotion

Manning-Martin claims discrimination because of illness, sister's politics

PEABODY — The race to succeed Fred Berry in the state Senate is over, but Anne Manning-Martin believes the bitterness lingers on.

In a federal lawsuit against various state officials, including the office of Gov. Deval Patrick, Manning-Martin, a Peabody councilor-at-large, claims her support for one of the candidates — her sister, Mary-Ellen Manning — is partly responsible for getting her demoted from a post at the state Department of Corrections, where she had worked since 2006.

Yesterday, Manning-Martin referred all questions to her lawyer, Inga Bernstein, who could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit alleges “political discrimination,” as well as discrimination based on gender, on her medical condition and the fact that she made formal complaints regarding her mistreatment. The lawsuit charges that the state’s actions amount to “retaliation” and “breach of contract.”

The lawsuit says that in December 2009, she was promised the position of deputy superintendent at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital at a salary of $78,000 per year, and she served in that post for nearly two years. She said she was promised a retroactive raise once the promotion was formally approved.

Meanwhile, she complied with a requirement of her application that she reveal her relationship with then-Governor’s Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning. The lawsuit notes that Manning “is widely known as a critic of Gov. Deval Patrick’s judicial nominees and a number of his political views.”

Manning-Martin was an outspoken supporter of her sister’s Senate campaign and posted messages on Twitter from Manning that were critical of the governor, according to the filing. On the other hand, the lawsuit maintains that none of this activism touched on Manning-Martin’s work.

On March 28, 2012, Manning-Martin reported to her superiors that she’d tested positive for uterine cancer. (She was treated and reports a full recovery as of last July.) Shortly after telling her supervisors that she required medical leave, she was removed from her position as deputy and retroactive pay was denied, the lawsuit alleges.

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