A judge who rules on disability cases for the Social Security Administration has sued the federal agency, accusing her supervisors of age and gender discrimination and retaliating against her for filing complaints about her treatment.

Administrative Law Judge Katherine Morgan, one of seven judges in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Portland, said in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland that she was targeted by the office’s chief judge because of her age. She is 71.

Morgan, who has been a judge since 1994, filed a written complaint to her immediate supervisor, Chief Judge Guy Fletcher, after she was told on Dec. 11, 2013, that she was being targeted in an investigation by the Social Security Administration for her performance. The investigation focused on Morgan’s high production rate in deciding cases, for approving a high number of appeals and for attendance issues, according to the lawsuit.

“Chief Judge Fletcher repeatedly falsely accused Judge Morgan of time and attendance violations for documenting her time and attendance in exactly the same manner as the other judges, who were not accused,” the lawsuit says. “The discriminatory conduct directed at Judge Morgan by her fellow employees was known to and acquiesced in by her direct supervisor, Chief Judge Fletcher. The discriminatory conduct was directed at Judge Morgan by Chief Judge Fletcher was known to and acquiesced in by Regional Chief Judge (Carol) Sax, Chief Judge Fletcher’s direct supervisor. The discriminatory conduct was intentional, willful and malicious, entitling Judge Morgan to an award of punitive damages.”

The lawsuit does not specify how much money Morgan is seeking. She demands a jury trial seeking damages for lost money, emotional pain, compensation allowed by law and other legal fees.

The lawsuit was filed on Morgan’s behalf by attorneys from the Portland law firm Norman, Hanson and DeTroy. One of her attorneys, Theodore Kirchner, declined through a member of his staff to respond to a phone call from the Portland Press Herald.


A regional spokesman for the Social Security Administration, Roberto Medina, could not be reached for comment.

Maine’s offices of Disability Adjudication and Review routinely take longer to decide disability appeals than the national average and approve more disability claims than the national average, according Social Security Administration data compiled by the website www.disabilityjudges.com.

In the most recent fiscal year, Maine judges approved 53 percent of disability claim appeals, dismissed 24 percent of claims and denied 23 percent, according to the website’s statistics.

Morgan approved more appeals than any other judge in the Portland office. She approved 65 percent of disability claim appeals, dismissed 20 percent and denied 15 percent. She decided 148 cases from last Oct. 1 to March 11.

By comparison, Fletcher approved 54 percent of appeals, dismissed 15 percent and denied 31 percent. He decided 48 cases in the same period.

Judge John Edwards approved the fewest appeals in the Portland office, with 35 percent approved, 30 percent dismissed and 34 percent denied. He decided 151 cases.

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