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Gender discrimination lawsuit reinstated


A federal appeals court has reinstated a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman after a male colleague was promoted ahead of her.

Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based conglomerate Ametek Inc. hired Amy Brown as a manager in its finance department in 2008, two years after it hired Robert Virelli as manager, financial reporting, in the same department, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Amy Brown v. Ametek Inc.

Each was promoted to senior manager in 2011.  In 2018, Ametek again promoted Mr. Virelli but not Ms. Brown.

Ms. Brown sued Ametek in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, alleging gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The district court granted Ametek summary judgment dismissing the case and was overturned by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.

Ametek said Mr. Virelli took on “substantial responsibility beyond the regular scope of his position,” while Ms. Brown “offloaded assignments and did not take on the special projects necessary for promotion to Director,” the ruling said.

“A reasonable factfinder could find that Ametek’s proffered reasons for not promoting Brown … were pretextual,” the ruling said

“First, the contemporaneous record undermines the reasons Ametek’s witnesses offered for their promotion decision. Brown’s immediate supervisor rated her as ‘promotable’” for 2015 – 2018, it said.

 But in 2017, others higher in the chain of command downgraded her potential from “promotable” to “expandable” just a few months before Mr. Virelli’s promotion without explanation, which “presents a genuine dispute as to whether the proffered reasons for the decision not to promote Brown was pretextual,” the ruling said in vacating the district court’s order and remanding the case for further proceedings.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.