Fedweek Legal

In Harbuck v. U.S., (Fed. Cir. No. 04-5013 (August 10, 2004)), the employee filed a Title VII claim for sex discrimination in federal district court. In her law suit, Ms. Harbuck claimed, among other things, that the agency discriminated against her on account of her sex when it failed to compensate her at the same level as male employees performing substantially comparable work. In another count in her lawsuit, Ms. Harbuck claimed that similar conduct also violated the Equal Pay Act (EPA). After the lawsuit was filed, she transferred her EPA claim from the district court to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Subsequent to transferring the EPA claim of her lawsuit, the district court dismissed the remaining aspects of her discrimination suit. In the Claims Court, the government then moved to dismiss the EPA claim on the grounds it was the same claim raised in the dismissed Title VII sex discrimination claim and that the Claims Court is precluded from asserting jurisdiction over any claim that duplicates a claim against the U.S. pending in another court. The Claims Court agreed and dismissed the EPA claim.

On appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the appeals court agreed with the Claims Court that the court must look to the filing dates to determine if the Title VII complaint was pending when the EPA complaint was filed. Since the two claims were originally filed in the same complaint, the Title VII claim was pending at the same time the EPA claim was. Further, the appeals court found that the operative facts in both cases were the same. Ms. Harbuck also claimed that she followed the advice of a new attorney in transferring the EPA claim out of her Title VII claim and that the dismissal of the EPA claim would result in