Applying to Sandia Labs and you’ve been sexually assaulted? Be prepared for the details of your case to be made public. Oh, and Sandia might assign you to work relating to your own sexual assault. Sickening!

I do not change the names of people involved in lawsuits unless they allege they are victims of a sexual assault. The plaintiff’s name has been changed in this case. Keep in mind that this information comes from a publicly available complaint containing allegations about misbehavior of Sandia Labs management.


“Mary” was a sexual assault survivor. Her case made the courts, and is still available online. I didn’t read it. That is immaterial because it happened years before Mary began working for Sandia. It should have had no bearing at all on Mary’s employment at Sandia. However, her manager became sickly preoccupied with it and spent company time (customer’s had to pay for this) while he reviewed and re-reviewed the case, asked Mary about it, and finally assigned her work related to her own sexual assault. Safe to say that is perverted. Per Diane Nakos (Ethics) and Machelle Karler (EEO), this perversion was OK as long as he didn’t spend too much company time thinking about the violent crime.

Mary worked for 7 years with the DoD. During that time, she was sexually assaulted in connection with her job. She was then harassed when she complained about that. When she was tired of the harassment, she decided to apply for a job at Sandia Labs. Big mistake! But how could Mary know that? Sandia Labs repeatedly says it’s a good place to work for women. The truth is far different as told by the scores of women who spoke up in the recent class action lawsuit for gender discrimination against Sandia Labs.

Mary interviewed with Steve Kempka and Charles Craft. In the middle of the interview, Mr. Craft pulled out the complaint in the case involving Mary’s sexual assault and subsequent harassment and both men proceeded to ask her questions about it. I need to pause for a minute while I process that and pull my jaw up off the floor. Way to go Sandia on fair interviews. We’ll have to add another class of employees who face discrimination at Sandia Labs: victims of crimes.

Apparently, Mary did very well in her interview, but it seems that Mr. Kempka and Mr. Craft did not want to hire Mary because of the court proceedings in regards to her case. In short, in their eyes she was not a victim –  she was a whistleblower. HR told them, however, that this was not a valid reason to disqualify Mary. So they made an offer. Before Mary started, Mr. Craft met with Mary again and discussed details of the case. Mary’s lawsuit against Sandia states:

“Mr. Craft expressed an unnatural interest in the status of the Title VII case.”

Then Gary Laughlin gets in on the action. He, too, meets with the pending hire and asks her outright if she practices witchcraft. He also sought information about the case involving the sexual assault and harassment. Huh??? How is that appropriate?

Mary was immediately harassed at Sandia because of her sexual assault. As soon as she walked through the gate at Sandia Labs, it began. Mr. Craft (Mary’s first manager) announced to her team and to her mentor that she had “difficulty” with DoD and was likely a problem employee.

Mary had to go on a business trip with Mr. Craft. Here’s what happened:

“… during a trip for a December 2011 client meeting in Virginia, Mr. Craft instructed Plaintiff to tell a client that she, Plaintiff, had been sexually assaulted and had sued the DOD. This instruction was humiliating and emotionally devastating. Moreover, due to the sensitive nature of the information, Mr. Craft instructed her to meet with him in his hotel room, the Plaintiff was deeply disturbed and hesitant about this instruction because she had been raped in a hotel room, something Mr. Craft was aware of because he had read the Complaint in her case against DOD.”

Mr. Craft on that same trip told Mary that another whistleblower had worked for him in the past. He’d gotten rid of him. Now, supposedly, he was living in a trailer hoping for a pension from the government. He implied to Mary that she, too, was a whistleblower and her career would soon be over. Sadly, that was the truth.

Mr. Craft told Mary “she would never be promoted because of the Title VII civil lawsuit she had filed against DOD.” He also turned to his computer and opened up the court proceedings regarding Mary’s rape and harassment and showed Mary that he saved it on his computer. Mary was upset about this and discussed it with her level 2 manager who did nothing. Way to go. Oh rather, way to turn your head and look the other way while your direct reports act absurdly inappropriately. She then discussed it with Diane Nakos (ethics) and Machelle Karler (HR EEO). Ms. Nakos actually said Mr. Craft’s prurient interest in the rape was OK as long as he didn’t spend too much company time reading about it. It wasn’t pornography, and it wasn’t an ethics issue. Ummm, wrong there! In fact, Ms. Nakos actually said that there was a lot of “negative information” about the plaintiff on the internet. See the subtle turn there? Well, not so subtle. Mr. Craft’s actions are WRONG WRONG WRONG morally, but Sandia, aided by its incompetent HR and ethics staff, actually BLAMED THE VICTIM!

Here’s where we start to see clearly the way Mary got the Sandia Treatment. It was designed to humiliate her and break her down until she left of her own accord. Why? Sandia never wanted her in the first place because she had dared to speak up after being raped. Apparently, Sandia Labs management actually thinks that a woman who has been raped should just shut the f**k up and not be a whistleblower.

Mary was moved to another department. Now she was working for Briggs Atherton. According to Mary’s lawsuit against Sandia Labs, Sandia knew full well that Mr. Atherton had a problem with women but condoned that too:

“Defendant Atherton has a history and pattern of creating a hostile work environment against women. The Corporate Defendants were aware of Defendant Atherton’s unlawful behavior toward women.”

Despite having a positive mid-year review, just a few months later, Mr. Atherton rated her down. That’s a very common approach to dealing with whistleblowers. Troublesome employees they never wanted in the first place. If you speak up, you WILL be rated down. You can take that to the bank.

Unfortunately, it got much worse:

“Ultimately, Plaintiff was removed from her assigned team and placed on an internally generated project that involved her prior legal case involving the sexual assault against her. This constituted an explicit effort by Defendants to harass, humiliate, and disturb Plaintiff.”

I don’t even have a comment to make about that. I’m sitting here trying to catch my breath at the cruelty of Sandia Lab’s actions towards Mary. What customer paid unknowingly to harass a rape victim???

Mr. Atherton then went on to falsify complaints against Mary and to negatively misrepresent her work performance. He even went so far as to accuse Mary, falsely, of being suicidal. Those of you with security clearances will recognize this as an attempt to imply she was mentally ill which would cause her clearance to be removed and the likely loss of her employment and any future employment in her field. More humiliation for Mary while she tried to prove she was not suicidal.

Mr. Atherton moved Mary to a new office away from the work group to isolate her and also took away her access to data and ordered her to delete all evidence of any work she had done on a project. This separation from her team, isolation and removal from data required to do your job is something I too experienced by my last manager at Sandia, Bob Mata. It’s a standard part of the Sandia Treatment. Another attempt to break Mary down. If it happens to you, you should already have a lawyer.

Mary was then told in writing that her security access to FIE (Field Intelligence Element) was in jeopardy because she was “eavesdropping” on other employees. Allegedly, another false accusation on the part of Mr. Atherton.

Finally, Mr. Atherton was frustrated because Mary had not broken down and left on disability or just simply quit, so he jumped to the final stage of the Sandia Treatment. Mary was informed that she could 1) resign, 2) go on a Performance Improvement Plan (with a manager who was falsifying her work) or 3) go before the Sandia Labs corporate review board. Mary stuck it out until she was fired a few months later. Then she filed suit.

Mary’s crime? She was raped and complained about it. The managers who didn’t like that are still at Sandia. Sandia states it is a good place for women to work. It petitions outside magazines such as Forbes to rank Sandia as a top employer for women. How untrue. The bottom line is that the bulk of women at Sandia Labs are in administrative or soft technical positions. The bottom line is that scores of women complained about Sandia in conjunction with the recent class action suit against Sandia Labs. The bottom line is that Sandia Labs is not even a safe place for women to work. And, sadly, Sandia Labs will do nothing to change this.

A final thought: How safe is our national security data in the hands of 6 managers/EEO/Ethics officers who allegedly lied, falsified documents and harassed a “whistleblower” who was simply a victim of rape years earlier?  Why do some of them still have clearances and jobs at Sandia? The clearance process is failing our country.

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