One manager dead, another forced out the door for insisting exposed data be secured
Case #: 14-629 MV/KK
In 2014, Mark Ludwig filed suit for employment discrimination against Sandia Labs. He had disabilities, and Sandia forced him out the door. So far it sounds pretty typical. But this case has a twist, and you have to dig a little deeper to see the rest of the story.
Go back to 2008. Sandia exposed a lot of PII (personally identifiable information) about all its employees and contractors. Social security numbers and sensitive data. Two internal investigators were concerned about this and repeatedly asked Sandia to do something to secure the data. For those of you who may remember, back then you could look up employees in the directory online and hover over their name to see their Social Security number and other data at the bottom of the browser. Many staff were horrified and complained to management, but nothing was done for a long time. Way to go Sandia. Why does the country trust you with nuclear secrets???
Months later at the insistence of the two internal investigators (Pat O’Neill and Mark Ludwig), Sandia finally secured the data. It came out a couple of years later that very sensitive PII had been lost. Sandia finally admitted it and informed employees, but they turned their crosshairs to the two internal investigators, Pat and Mark. Never mind Sandia lost data, the blame fell on the two investigators that tried to stop the data leak. Typical Sandia response.
Pat O’Neill was removed from his investigator role, and Sandia started the process to fire him. Sadly, Pat died of a stress-related stroke prior to his termination. Mark Ludwig was also removed as an investigator and reassigned. Mark Ludwig was proactive and defended himself against Sandia. He knew what was coming. His civil rights had been violated, and he would soon be out the door. But he and Sandia reached an agreement, and Mark stayed employed a little while longer.
Then he fell ill in 2012 and used sick leave. His director, Pat Smith, tried to replace him even though he could do his job. One of his colleagues was offered his job and refused it. Several months later, Mark needed a surgery and took off another 3 weeks. He was told he could be replaced. Then his rating was dropped to a 2 with shady and contradictory justification. So Mark raised a concern of discrimination, and the retaliation began in earnest. He had an accommodation for his disabilities, but was told it would be removed. Mark turned to the courts for relief for this blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The moral of the story that apparently Sandia would like you to learn is that if you complain, you will be forced out. It doesn’t matter if it’s a serious security issue. And they have no compunction against applying enough stress that you may die. They will get you out the door one way or another.
Oh, and by the way, apparently the investigation information about the lost PII was conveniently lost by Sandia. Read about it here. We’ve seen that trick before.