Shirley Davis, who claimed she was fired as an assistant to Rep. Otto Passman because she was a woman, has settled her damage suit against the former Democratic congressman for an undisclosed amount.
The U.S. Supreme Court set a precedent in ruling, 5 to 4, on the case that monetary damages could be awarded to congressional employes who were victims of discrimination.
Davis sued Passman five years ago, seeking back wages, reinstatement, lawyers' fees and court costs.
The settlement was disclosed Thursday, but details were withheld. Attorneys for Davis and Passman met in a private office Tuesday to arrange the settlement.
Passman said at a press conference today he had reached the out-of-court settlement because he could not afford to continue fighting the suit.
Pressman claimed congressional immunity from the lawsuit. The Supreme Court majority opinion, written by Justice William Brennan, did not address the issue of immunity, but Brennan quoted from an earlier Supreme Court opinion that held "no man in this country is so high that he is above the law."
Davis' first suit against Passman went almost unnoticed when the District Court ruled in Passman's favor. After the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against her, Davis appealed. The case received national notice when the Justice Department intervened in behalf of the congressman.
Davis, a widow who last year declared she was not a "women's libber," received a letter from Passman dismissing her. He wrote that she had done a good job, but he felt he needed a man as an administrative assistant instead of a woman. Passman later said he wrote that not to discriminate, but as a gentle way of firing Davis.
Davis last year said her firing "outraged, humiliated and practically destroyed" her.