Lori Martinez passed on a chance to leave Modesto's Finance Department in 2000 because her former boss promised her a promotion in a closed-door meeting, she told a jury Thursday.
Martinez didn't get the promised promotion to purchasing supervisor, even though she was performing the job's tasks on an interim basis.
"It was work that needed to be done," Martinez said. "Someone had to do it."
Martinez is one of three female Finance Department employees in court this week seeking tens of thousands of dollars in back wages.
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They claim the city violated the state's Equal Pay Act by awarding them lower salaries than it gave to one of their male colleagues in a similar position.
Martinez wants $97,000 that she says she is owed beyond the $20,000 in back wages the city gave her in 2004 for the work she did as an acting purchasing officer between June 1997 and June 2001. The city did not issue her a pay differential for the final six months of that pe-riod, according to her lawsuit.
Shelline Bennett, Modesto's attorney, sought to undercut Martinez's claims with a series of questions about whether she performed the full range of a purchasing officer's responsibilities, and whether Martinez received a boost in her wages during that period.
Martinez conceded that she did not write evaluations for people she supervised, and she received an extra 5 percent in pay.
Bennett cited reports from other Finance Department employees who allegedly assisted with the interim purchasing officer workload. Martinez countered that she was performing the bulk of the purchasing officer's work as she understood it from her previous decade working for the city.
As for the promotion, Martinez said then-Finance Director Robert Stout pledged to get it for her when she prepared to leave the city to take a job at California State Univer- sity, Stanislaus.
Instead, Stout hired Mark Averell to take the reins as the city's purchasing supervisor.
Averell's position became the focal point of the lawsuit, with Martinez, Jo Ann Bertolotti and Leslie Curtin comparing their salaries to his.
Lawyer: Raises were given
An internal study conducted by the city's equal opportunity officer in 2002 determined that Bertolotti and Curtin should have earned the same wages as Averell because each of them performed supervisorial jobs in the Finance Department. Ber- tolotti and Curtin are customer service supervisors.
Bennett on Wednesday told the jury that the study was not binding, that it prompted Modesto to issue the women back wages, and that it contributed to the city's decision to conduct independent salary surveys of those positions. Those surveys re- sulted in Bertolotti and Curtin receiving pay increases, but not to Averell's level.
The trial is expected to resume today with testimony from Deputy Finance Director Cheryl Detmar, who has written in court documents that the three women should earn salaries equal to Averell's.
Deputy City Manager Judith Ray, one of Modesto's highest-ranking women executives, sat in on the trial Wednesday and Thursday.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.