, Salem, MA

April 2, 2013

Councilor sues state over her demotion

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

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — 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.

Instead, she was given a newly created position, director of treatment, with no duties, the complaint alleges.

“Upon information and belief, this decision was made by the Governor’s Office, EOPSS (Executive Office of Public Safety and Security) and/or the DOC (Department of Correction),” the complaint says.

Meanwhile, a new deputy, William Devine, was hired at a salary of nearly $105,000 a year. In response to all this, Martin has filed complaints of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Ms. Manning currently spends her days sitting in an office at the Shattuck with no responsibilities,” the lawsuit claims, “has been denied promotion opportunities ... and has lost the wages she earned and should have continued to earn as deputy superintendent.”

Her application for another job at the women’s prison in Framingham was rejected.

The lawsuit asks that Manning-Martin be reinstated as the Shattuck deputy and compensated for lost wages, as well as emotional pain and damage to her reputation. She also wants to state to pay her legal costs and asks the judge to assess punitive damages.

Manning-Martin, who ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2002, previously worked for 13 years as a caseworker for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.

Mary-Ellen Manning gave up her seat as a governor’s councilor to run for state Senate last year, but lost in the Democratic primary to Salem City Councilor Joan Lovely.

The governor’s office did not respond to requests for a comment yesterday.