A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit claiming that Modesto underpaid three women in its Finance Department.
Judge William Mayhew determined that Fire Department business analyst Lori Mar- tinez could not press her case because her claims had expired under a statute of limi- tations.
Mayhew's decision leaves Jo Ann Bertolotti and Leslie Curtin in the trial. The women manage city collections and want Modesto to bring their pay up to par with that of a male colleague who performs a similar job in the Finance Department's purchasing arm.
Martinez worked out of her job classification as an acting purchasing officer from 1997 to 2001. She received a boost in pay for most of that period, though the raise was not to the level a 2002 internal study said she deserved.
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Shelline Bennett, Modesto's attorney, last week filed a motion arguing that Martinez would have had to file her lawsuit by 2004 at the latest to comply with the statute of limitation. Mayhew agreed.
Martinez, Bertolotti and Curtin filed the lawsuit in 2005.
"It's been a long, frustrating process," said Gary Goyette, their attorney. "We're evaluating whether or not we're going to appeal that ruling, and we just want to see what's going to happen with the verdict for the other two plaintiffs first."
Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday.
During the trial, Martinez testified that she passed up a job opportunity at California State University, Stanislaus, because her boss promised to promote her to the purchasing officer position.
Instead, then-Finance Director Rob Stout hired Mark Averell in June 2001.
Former equal opportunity officer Jason Mauga in 2002 conducted a study indicating the women were underpaid compared with Averell.
Modesto contends that study led to the city's issuing back wages to the women and to a salary survey that boosted Bertolotti's and Curtin's pay. That survey stopped short of raising their salaries to what Averell earned at the time.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.