A federal judge ruled yesterday that the State Department did not discriminate against female Foreign Service officers in certain promotions but decided women have been discriminated against in evaluations, assignments and awards.
U.S. District Court Judge John Lewis Smith originally found in 1985 that the State Department had not discriminated in any of its personnel actions. But three months ago a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals here ruled unanimously that Smith made legal errors in his first ruling.
Smith's new ruling is the first use of a complex statistical standard set by the three-judge panel, which included Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork, to determine whether an employer's disparate treatment of men and women implies unlawful discrimination.
The case, brought on behalf of all female Foreign Service officers by Alison Palmer, covers about 1,000 women employed between 1976 and 1983. Smith's decision was limited to liability questions. Additional hearings will be held to determine what relief, such as back pay, should go to the women.
Attorneys for the women could not be reached for comment.
The promotions issue was limited to whether women were discriminated against in promotions from class 5, a junior level, to class 4, a middle level, between 1976 and 1983. Smith ruled there was evidence that a larger percentage of men was promoted from class 5 but that the discrimination did not reach the statistical standard.
Smith ruled, however, that the department had discriminated against women in:Superior Honor Awards, one of three types of awards that may be supplemented with cash payments. Assignments. A disproportionately large number of women were appointed to the less prestigious consular division and a disproportionately small number to the more prestigious political arm of the department. Women were also discriminated against in appointments as deputy chief of mission. Evaluations designed to measure "potential" job performance.