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Jury Awards $20 Million in Sex Discrimination Verdict Against Texaco

October 4, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A jury Thursday awarded $15 million in punitive damages to a female Texaco Inc. employee in a sex discrimination lawsuit, boosting the total judgment against the oil company to $20.3 million.

The Superior Court jury found that Texaco discriminated on the basis of sex when Janella Sue Martin’s bids for advancement were turned down.

On Sept. 26 jurors had awarded her $6.8 million in compensatory damages, but was informed by Judge Ronald Cappai that there had been an error in their instructions and the amount was too high, said Ms. Martin’s attorney, Dan Stormer.

That portion of the award was slashed on Wednesday to $287,000 in economic damages and $2.3 in non-economic damages.

The jury also ruled that Texaco retaliated against Ms. Martin after she filed suit in 1986, and ordered the company to promote her from her current position as a credit supervisor.

″I probably couldn’t be more pleased,″ Ms. Martin said in a telephone interview. ″I have no plans to leave the company. That was the purpose of the suit, to get the promotion.″

Texaco lead attorney Andrew Peterson called the amount of the award ″ridiculously high.″ He said the company plans to appeal the jury’s verdict within the next two months.

Ms. Martin, 48, sued Texaco in 1986, claiming she was twice rejected after applying in the early 1980s to become credit manager for Texaco’s western region. She said she suffered emotionally after men got the higher-paying jobs.

Since filing the lawsuit, she has continued as credit supervisor in company’s regional supply and trading department.

Her current position pays $67,500 per year, while the promotion would give her an annual income of $105,000, she said.

The jury’s final award includes $15 million in punitive damages and $2.67 million in compensatory damages. Under California’s labor code, the compensatory damages are doubled, said Stormer.

The judge, however, must approve the total of actual and punitive damages, as well as Ms. Martin’s promotion.

″This totally vindicates Janella Martin,″ Stormer said. ″It’s a statement by the jury that discrimination will not be tolerated in corporate America. That if discrimination takes place, it will be penalized.″

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