By Raam Wong, Journal Staff Writer
Saturday, August 25, 2007
A plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Los Alamos National Laboratory has appealed the final settlement in the case, potentially delaying $12 million in payouts to lab employees.
Lab employee Laurie Quon's attorney filed a notice of appeal on Wednesday in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The suit alleged years of race and gender discrimination on the part of the lab.
The two-page notice does not give Quon's reason for appealing the settlement. But Quon has previously objected to it, arguing that the women who originally initiated the lawsuit would receive excessive payouts. She also asserted that the agreement, which releases the lab from future discrimination claims, was too broad.
U.S. District Judge William Johnson in March overruled those objections. Quon's attorney, George Geran, could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
John Bienvenu, a lawyer representing workers in the case, told the Journal earlier this month that an administrator could soon begin processing claims for the 3,178 employees involved, with checks going out by the end of the year.
However, Bienvenu said in the recent interview that an appeal could postpone those payouts by several years.
Bievenu said it was reasonable that the women who initiated the suit— known as class representatives— should receive about $122,000 apiece because they took the risk of coming forward and alleging years of gender and racial discrimination. Payouts for other class members would range from $200 to $9,200 apiece, Bienvenu said.
Bienvenu could not be reached to comment on the appeal Friday evening.
Six female LANL employees filed separate discrimination lawsuits against the lab's former manager, the University of California, in 2003 and 2004.
The suits, which allege pay and promotions discrimination, were merged into a single class action case. The final settlement was approved in July.
[Thanks to a daring reader for sending this story.]