Aug 26, 2007

Plaintiff Appeals $12M LANL Suit Settlement

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.]

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

First, why is a reader "daring" for senging the story? S/he is not mentioned by name.

Second, this is really interesting. One would assume that the was (should have been) some agreement among the plaintiffs at the beginning of the litigation.

As far as the name plaintiffs being at some risk, that is a stretch. I think that they left the lab prior to the suit getting to court.

Anonymous said...

The only significant "raises" you'll see at LANL during the next decade will likely come from discrimination lawsuits. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of them in the near future. The next set won't be directed at UC. Instead they'll take a direct hit on LANL's thread-bare operating budget.

Pinky and The Brain said...

6:46,
It was an inside joke. The reader "dared" me to post it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a woman, and knowing a couple of the class reps leaves me feeling embarassed. Since when has Loyda Martinez sacraficed a thing? And she represents me? Give me a break! She's no class rep.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank the plantiffs for having the courage to take on the lab 'machine'. One could hope that LANL will self police in the future.

Anonymous said...

If I understand this right:
6 LANL women stuck their necks out to bring a lawsuit (whether they are worth anything or not).
It became a class action suit. If you wanted to join the suit you had to send your paper work in, notarized, by Nov 2006.
Out of several thousand potentials only a handful (several hundred) sent their paperwork in.
UC lost the lawsuit and was told to pay $12M.
Laurie Quon, who had NOT joined the lawsuit, now feels that since the ladies won she deserves to be in on the action and that the original ladies don't deserve what they are getting. (maybe they do and maybe they don't)
So she sues and loses. However, now the judge says "all you who didn't send your paperwork in earlier, send it in now. You all get a second chance to join".
Laurie Quon appeals and this will drag itself out for another 2 years.
Selfish Selfish people.
Ya snooze ya lose. Bad judge. Bad Laurie Quon. Shame on you all.

Anonymous said...

"She also asserted that the agreement, which releases the lab from future discrimination claims, was too broad."

Did the reporter get that wrong or was lab counsel really stupid enough to try to write that into the settlement agreement?

Anonymous said...

I was discouraged by some of my senior colleagues from submitting the paperwork even though discrimination in my group has been rampant for years. I was told that there would be retaliation against anyone who participated in the class lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

10:36, as a potential member of the class, I didn't receive any paperwork for opt-in/out until after the suit was settled.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the earlier post. As a woman, I too am embarassed that a person like Martinez would represent me on such an important issue. While I do appreciate the risk involved I'm not sure anyone, much less this individual, deserves anything near the $122,000 windfall mentioned in the article. How is this fair, given that some class members will be receiving as little as $200?

Anonymous said...

Response to 8/26/07 10:15 PM

My colleagues have shown extraordinary commitment, conviction, and courage; each made a bold decision to step forward against a backdrop of risks, sacrifices, long days and longer nights, struggle, doubt, and anguish. They always understood that to improve the quality of life for present and future generations, these efforts must be made. For over 15 years now, they have vigorously committed themselves to the employees working at the national laboratory, and proudly worked at the forefront.
3. They believed that the ability for workers to speak openly and without fear of retribution is, in fact, the essence of meaningful accountability. Without that ability, the behaviors are destined to continue. Without accountability, the mission of this institution becomes clouded by the ambitions of those in charge. And as we have seen in recent scandals involving the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the national security mission of the institution has become secondary to the desire of those in charge. Simply maintaining their positions at all costs becomes the priority, and this cannot continue without workers and the communities that surround this facility being placed at risk.
4. When they decided to become an advocate for employee rights, they knew that they would continue to be very visible to LANL management. They knew that LANL has a history of retaliation against those who seek to hold LANL accountable for its lack of commitment to the laws of equal opportunity. They knew that they were risking their career and future at LANL. They also knew that this could affect other jobs they might seek in the future. They nonetheless decided to go forth because they strongly believed that change was necessary. They believed that the risk to their career was a risk they were willing to take to achieve justice. Today, they have a job -- no career. They have been “blacklisted” from any opportunities at LANL.
5. Due to the years of LANL’s effort to discredit people that speak out, they are intentionally perceived differently by management. They believe that this perception has had a negative impact on any advancement they might have achieved; at this point they feel that attainment of higher career goals has vanished from possibility. Their incentive to move up the ranks is no different than anyone else's: it stems from a desire to have greater responsibility, greater challenge, greater influence, and greater income. They never imagined that in the United States of America any person could be subjected to the kinds of abuses their family have witnessed and experienced through this process. Since Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) taking over the contract the lack of regard to federal law is very evident. While they may be a few minorities selected for jobs, it reeks of token action and not equal opportunity for all as required by federal law. LANS contract indicates that they will be an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. We have yet to see any clear Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) plan and morale continues to deteriorate.
6. My name is Loyda Martinez. I come from humble roots in the Hispanic farming community of Chimayó, New Mexico. I have worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for approximately 31 years. I am here today because, since 1992, I have been an advocate for employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory (“LANL” or the “Lab”).

Anonymous said...

8/26/07 10:15 PM and 8/27/07 8:49 AM

Interesting how judgmental you are considering you didn't contribute anything to get your settlement!

Your hatred is the same that permeates this institution and this country of ours.

Where have you been all this time while the struggle was going on? Waiting for someone to do it for you!

Anonymous said...

Before anyone else makes judgment of the Class Representatives, let me suggest that you read Loyda Martinez’s affidavit. For a small fee, the original and a revised version that UC required before settlement can be read below:

http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/pacerdesc.html

Anonymous said...

I come from humble. beginnings too, like Abe Lincoln. Lived in a log cabin and treked through the snow uphill both ways to get to school every day. Hear that noise? That's the sad whine of a violin moaning in the background. I get such a lump in my throat just thinking of how much these poor class reps suffered through the years having to work for a living.

Anonymous said...

8/26/07 10:15 PM

What that before or after your operation?

Anonymous said...

8/27/07 4:03 PM

Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his vital role as the leader in preserving the Union during the Civil War and beginning the process that led to the end of slavery in the United States. He is also remembered for his character, his speeches and letters, and as a man of humble origins whose determination and perseverance led him to the nation's highest office.

Anonymous said...

5:40 pm:

Nice copy-and-paste. You flunk (again).

Anonymous said...

8/27/07 7:08 PM

It takes one to know one! Flunky!!!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way of finding out the names of the individuals who opted in? It would be interesting to know if some of the individuals who opted in are or have been senior managers or legal counsel employees.

Anonymous said...

For 10:36PM to say these class reps stuck their necks out makes you wonder where 10:36PM has his/her head stuck. Just because someone places their name on a piece of paper doesn't mean diddly squat. By that point your career is basically over, so what have you got to loose? Not much. A more fundamental question is WHY. Why did this person’s career can go so awry? Was it something she did, something she didn't, or is she just too busy complaining to do much work? Knowing Martinez (and a couple of her friends involved in this) it’s a fair question to ask.

Anonymous said...

8/27/07 7:08 PM

As Gussie so eloquently said in a previous post.

Racism; elitism; corporate profiteering at its absolute worst has been abundantly demonstrated on this blog. These are now undeniable components of Los Alamos society.

Anonymous said...

Rich Marquez is shameless enough to have opted in; poor deprived Hispanic that he is. He's probably getting the $9K.

Anonymous said...

There is a long running trend at LANL. It goes like this... become a poor performer, get small raises, cry out about discrimination, file a lawsuit, then sit back knowing you are fully protected from any chance of a layoff during the rest of your career at LANL. I've seen this story play out way too many times. Frankly, I'm ready to see LANS kick some ass and rid the place of the workers who only view LANL as a quick trip to Easy Street. There are some cases of true discrimination at LANL, but not many. Most workers have it far better here than any other places at which they might find work.

Anonymous said...

Oh Geez, not Lloyda again!

Anonymous said...

"Rich Marquez is shameless enough to have opted in; poor deprived Hispanic that he is. He's probably getting the $9K. 8/27/07 7:56 PM"

No, I think MarTEEN Aguilera got the $9k.

Anonymous said...

"Racism; elitism; corporate profiteering at its absolute worst has been abundantly demonstrated on this blog. These are now undeniable components of Los Alamos society. "

I do not see it. You really need to get out of NM and see what really goes on in the United States. LANL is really very tolerant. Try living in California, New York, or the South where racisim and elitism are indeed part of society. Los Alamos can always improve just as the rest of the country. The blog really demonstates nothing as you have no idea who is posting or if they even work at LANL. Many of the inflammatory comments are just from trolls.

Pinky and The Brain said...

I've lived in California, New York, the South, New Mexico, and a few other places too. Based on my experiences, New Mexico is no better nor worse than the other places you point fingers at.

Anonymous said...

When I read the comments from some bloggers it makes me believe that we have closet Ku Klux Klan (KKK) that advocate white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, etc. in Los Alamos. The KKK groups resisted the civil rights movement and are considered extreme hate groups. This is exactly what is expressed on this blog. By day you pretend to be honest citizens and by night you put on your white cloaks, pointed hats and advocate hate!

Anonymous said...

" Pinky and The Brain said...
I've lived in California, New York, the South, New Mexico, and a few other places too. Based on my experiences, New Mexico is no better nor worse than the other places you point fingers at.
"

Pinky and the Brain. I do not doubt your sincerity. I can only tell you anecdotal evidence on my part. In California
for example I have seen time and time again minorities pulled over when drving in white neighborhoods. I saw an African American man stopped by the police and told that his car was too nice! When I was working
in a car shop all the minorities,
South Asian and hispanic where paid
almost half of what the white guys got paid. The boss was totally open about it as he considered it the "way the world is".
I have seen liquor store owners throw my friends out from places because the did not like the "way they looked". Both in New York and California you have what is called DWB (driving while black). Also I am not sure where in NY you lived but in NYC there are whole neighborhoods where certain groups just cannot go because it is too dangerous.

Note that I do acknowledge racism
exists in the United. It has been
statistically shown time and time again in various studies. This includes police practices, medicine, rent, insurance, and business. However at the same time the United States has made real progress over the past 50-60 years and I hope it continues
to do so. From my experiences Los Alamos is very tolerant and open. Again this is only my personal opinion.

Anonymous said...

11:39AM considers Los Alamos tolerant and open? Bwaaaaahhaa!

Anonymous said...

"11:39AM considers Los Alamos tolerant and open? Bwaaaaahhaa! "

I do consider it tolerant and open.

Anonymous said...

PS WTF too considers Los Alamos tolerant and open.

--White Theoretical Fysicist(phonically speaking)

Anonymous said...

"PS WTF too considers Los Alamos tolerant and open.

--White Theoretical Fysicist(phonically speaking)"

Pinky and Brain, Gussie,

Why do you let pure garbage like this on the blog?

What do you bet this junk is all comming from Chris Mechels?

Anonymous said...

8/26/07 10:15 PM

Since the class reps are embarrassing to you, I am sure that you're going to give your money to charity.