Janella Sue Martin--who gained national attention after winning a $20-million jury award in a sex discrimination suit against Texaco only to have a judge toss out the decision--has settled her dispute for a sum believed to be less than $2 million.
Both sides were under court orders not to discuss the settlement, but sources familiar with the case said Thursday that the pact also calls for Martin, now on paid administrative leave from Texaco, to soon give up her job with the oil company.
All told, the agreement amounted to a huge comedown for Martin, 52, who went to work for Texaco in 1966 and most recently was a credit supervisor in the company's Universal City office. A large but unspecified portion of the estimated $2 million settlement will go to her lawyers, meaning that the sum she will receive personally will be far less than one-tenth of the record-breaking verdict that a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded her in 1992.
Also, during her up-and-down, 10-year legal battle, Martin emphasized that one of her main goals was to stay with the company. She has been receiving a salary of more than $70,000 a year. Lawyers for both sides declined to publicly discuss specifics of the settlement.
"All I can say was that we reached a mutually agreeable settlement," said Cliff Jackson, one of Martin's three lawyers on the case.
The heart of Martin's workplace sex discrimination case involved an alleged broken promise by Texaco. Martin said she accepted a transfer and promotion from Houston to Los Angeles in 1984 on the understanding that she would be named credit manager of her new office as soon as the position was created. While she was on a vacation, however, a male employee from Texas was moved into the job.
Texaco denied that anyone ever promised such a promotion to Martin. It also says Martin, with only a year of college education, was less qualified than the man given the job, who held a master's degree in business and later earned a law degree.
Texaco questioned Martin's mental health, asserting in a pretrial court filing that specialists believed she has the characteristics of a disorder "that causes her to wrongfully believe that all actions are directed at her and to react extremely to the normal stresses of everyday life."
Martin's lawyers said that scant numbers of women and minorities have moved into the management ranks at Texaco, which is now under federal scrutiny for its employment policies.
Her lawyers also cited a meeting held with employees by the company's chairman in 1986 in which the executive stated that the reason few women had reached the executive ranks was that "our women don't want to be promoted at Texaco."