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JURY ABSOLVES IRS ADMINISTRATOR IN BIAS LAWSUIT

A federal jury decided Thursday that a black administrator for the Internal Revenue Service office here did not discriminate against three managers who are white.

But the jury said the IRS did retaliate against one of the three, supervisor Gary Hoeffken, for complaining repeatedly about how he was treated. Jurors rejected a similar claim from the other two.

The jury awarded Hoeffken $200,000 in damages. Judge Robin Cauthron scheduled a Sept. 10 hearing to determine how much additional money the IRS owes Hoeffken for back pay and future lost wages.

The verdicts came in a lawsuit filed by Hoeffken; Norma Woodard, former branch manager in the collections division; and supervisor Mona Meier.

All three IRS workers are on disability leave for various reasons, including job-related stress.

Mrs. Woodard and Hoeffken testified that Ron James, chief of the division, persecuted them after they refused to go along with his plan to promote minorities because he thought the division had too many white female supervisors.

James has been on assignment in Dallas, though he retains his title in Oklahoma City, since a critical internal investigation unrelated to the lawsuit.

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