If you’re thinking about working at Sandia Labs or you’re 40+, you need to read this post! Learn what happened in the 1970s and what’s still going on today.

It’s astonishing, stupefying and beyond depressing that a company in this day and age can get away with 45 years of discrimination. It was going on in 1975, and it’s still going strong today. Below are several recent examples of age discrimination, and one big successful lawsuit against the lab where the discrimination dated back to 1975. The case went to court, and the plaintiffs got some serious money and their jobs back. 
 
Back in the day, you know the good old days of the 70s, diversity wasn’t a problem. You didn’t have to hire women, minorities, disabled, LGBTQI – all those “problem employees” as one manager recently put it. He soulfully lamented that he always had problems with these kinds of employees. Ah, the good old days when your secretary was your “girl”, and she did what you wanted without talking back. You didn’t have to hire too many Hispanics (check out all the Anglo names in the story below). Mostly those good old days are long gone, but they’re living large in Sandiaville.
 
One day some uppity 50 year olds who still had years to work were told by their management that they were too old and given the ole bootaroo in a RIF. That’s reduction in force. Isn’t that a nice name for lay-off? Even the EEOC was outraged about this and sued Sandia. And here’s an interesting factoid before we dig into it all – Sandia was defended by Rodey, Dickason et al law firm. Guess who still defends Sandia against illegal and discriminatory practices 45 years later? Same law firm. That’s made some rich lawyers over the years, but it’s cost YOU, the taxpayer, a lot of money to defend. Discrimination is big business!! Or… and here’s a really novel idea you probably haven’t considered yet, Sandia…. you could STOP THE DISCRIMINATION and the lawsuits!
 
All quotes below are from Pacer or OpenJurist. As always, the italics are my comments.
 
From 1975:
 
Not much has changed over the years:
“…the procedure was for supervisors at various levels to nominate “candidates” for termination. The supervisors themselves were not, of course, subject to the reduction process. Nevertheless, some supervisors were required to accept demotion to non-supervisory jobs without a change in salary.
 
The Sandia lame excuse:
“Sandia claimed that some employees were terminated because their jobs were eliminated. The trial court doubted whether any of these were terminated for that reason since the duties of those jobs were merely reassigned.”
 
Yup, you were wrong then, Sandia, and you’re still wrong about discrimination:
“It concluded that Sandia had willfully violated the provisions of the ADEA [Age Discrimination in Employment Act] in its discharge of 11 of the claimants, but had not violated the ADEA with respect to two others.” 
 
Just a smattering of statistics and a disproven null hypothesis:
“Dr. Spalding conducted 36 separate analyses of the computer data with a view to establishing his “null hypothesis” that selection of an employee for inclusion in the layoff, all other factors being equal, was independent of age. The probability of the variable, age, being a chance occurrence was less than 5%, (in many cases less than 1%) in 34 of the analyses”
 
Ah, yes, I heard this one a few years back. Average age was creeping up there. Time to get rid of the old ones and bring in the millennials. It’s still going on 45 years later:
 
“Plaintiffs supplemented their statistical evidence by calling a number of Sandia’s supervisors, who testified that management was concerned over the increasing average age of the corporation’s employees.”
 
You won’t find this policy written in the official books, but it’s still around. 
“…division supervisor had a meeting, warned of the impending cutback and said that older people had better really consider retiring. At about this same time, another supervisor told one group of employees that “Any number of us ought to prepare to retire by age 55,” because he believed that it would be Sandia’s policy in a few more years.
 
If you haven’t made it into the good old boys club by 55, you might be kicked out. My boss, Bob, started asking me how old I was right before I turned 55. He could see my record. He knew. When he asked how old my husband was and started talking a lot about retirement, I knew what was coming. 
“Another witness said that one of his supervisors told him to remember that he had reached a dangerous age, telling him that he had reached 55 and “you can be forced to retire.””
 
The targets:
“In the memo it was pointed out that people with 15 years’ tenure, between the ages of 48 and 55, even when given Sandia’s lowest performance ratings, are far above national averages and that their skills may well be valuable in many situations. This, continued [Associate Lab Director] Mr. Pope, was for encouraging such employees to leave Sandia.”
 
A double negative here, but you get the idea:
“Considering both the descriptive statistical and the documentary evidence and testimony of the witnesses, the trial court concluded that Sandia’s evidence did not show that its actions were non-discriminatory toward the protected age group”
 

So here’s what happened to 11 of the 13 plaintiffs:

“At the time of termination, Anderson was 56 years of age.…He was awarded $29,044 back pay and $2,028 in lost savings. Also, Sandia was ordered to offer him reinstatement.”
 
“Vernon E. Baker…had two heart attacks and was unable to seek other employment. He was held to be entitled to $33,030 in lost earnings and $1,605 in savings contributions.”
 
“Frank M. Batchelor… was 57 years of age… He was held to be entitled to be offered reinstatement.”
 
“Joseph S. Browning… was 59 years old… He suffered a heart attack and remained on Sandia’s rolls in an inactive status until he was age 65. The trial court awarded him $41,895 in lost earnings and $1,872 in savings.”
 
“Mr. Colwell was age 56 at the time of the force reduction… His entitlement was fixed at $30,842 lost earnings. No savings contributions were found to be owed. He was also held to be entitled to an offer of reinstatement.”
 
“Carl E. Drew…was age 58… He was awarded $37,268 lost earnings, plus reinstatement.”
 
“He was age 53 when selected for termination… He was awarded lost earnings in the amount of $43,835, savings contributions in the amount of $1,317 and an offer of reinstatement.”
 
“Ron Ewing…Ewing became employed after his termination, and no monetary sums were found to be due him. He was found, however, to be entitled to an offer of reinstatement.”
 
“Leon Filvin…He was found to be entitled to lost earnings in the sum of $40,089 and lost savings contributions in the sum of $1,552.”
 
“[Donald] Fifield was age 58 and was the oldest employee in the Mobile and Remote Ranges Division of Sandia… was entitled to lost wages in the sum of $33,598 and employer’s savings contributions in the sum of $617.”
 
“Mark B. Gens… was awarded the sum of $44,013 as lost earnings, $674.00 as lost savings contributions and was ordered to be offered reinstatement.”
 

Age discrimination cases still going on in the 2010s

This post got a little long, so here’s three we’ll look at next week for comparison. It’s still ongoing. If you’re getting a little long in the tooth, best watch out! Managers may be looking to boot your backside out the gate!
 
  • Michael Vickers – a sad tale of age discrimination after retaliating against Mr. Vickers for raising serious safety concerns
  • Rita Luna-Cassias – another woeful tale of age discrimination and how a manager can change the title of a job (but not its duties) in order to push older women out the door
  • Thelma Ortiz – and yet again, sorry to say, more age discrimination
Sandia, your age discrimination is over 45 years old. Why don’t you boot it out the door???

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *