Don’t turn 50 at Sandia Labs! They’ll be coming for you soon!!!


If you’re in your 40s and still at Sandia, consider carefully Sandia Lab’s poor track record with older employees. Unless you’re a manager, executive or distinguished level, you’re likely headed out the door before you want to retire. Don’t let it happen to you. Re-energize your career by moving before they have a chance to fire you. Hanging on for the pension? Don’t bother. They’ll freeze it before you reach retirement age.

“Old” employee #1:  Robert Garrett worked at Sandia for 24.75 years. Then Sandia fired him because of his age. See Case 4:11-cv-05827.  Robert had exemplary performance ratings and awards, but Sandia wanted less employees in his division. Well, less older ones, that is. He and 22 other coworkers were notified they would have to find other jobs or be RIF’ed out the door. Ed Cull, a manager in his division, told the 23 employees to submit resumes to help them find new positions. Robert did as he was told and submitted a resume about his skills. He had a masters in civil engineering and exemplary performance reports – shouldn’t be a problem finding a new job at Sandia, right?

Wrong! Sandia promptly “lost” this older employee’s resume. Furthermore, some of the 23 employees were told secretly that they didn’t have to worry about the RIF – their jobs were safe. As long as they didn’t talk about it. Some did, and word got around. Robert wasn’t one of the safe ones.

So Robert’s job was given to a younger employee. Huh??? So this RIF was NOT by job function, it was apparently by age. His job was still there. He wasn’t. He was too old. Robert watched while Sandia helped other employees find jobs and take his away and replace him with a younger employee. It wasn’t going well for Robert, unfortunately. There was no help for him because he was in his 60s. John Garcia (Robert’s manager) and Ed Cull (the hatchetman?) met with Robert and asked him when he was eligible to retire. He had nearly 25 years, so that was that. Adios. CYA. Don’t let the door hit ya…

Robert complained to HR rep Kristine Freitas about age discrimination. By then it was becoming increasingly apparent that most of the employees being let go were well over 40. Not surprisingly, Kristine found no age discrimination problem. (I have to sigh here. Your first stop is not HR. Your first stop is a consultation with an employment attorney. DO NOT fall into the false belief that HR is there to help you. They state openly they are there to protect the company and management. STOP GOING TO THEM!)

Long story short, Robert was out the door.

“Old” employee #2: Geneva Sachs worked many years at Sandia until she got a new supervisor in 2011. One who doesn’t like older employees. This new supervisor (sadly, not named in the suit) promptly assigned Geneva to work that she did not have the training or experience for. She asked for training to help her do her new duties correctly. She didn’t get it, but her younger coworkers sure  did. Instead, Geneva got negative ratings because she couldn’t do the new assignment without training and her manager wouldn’t let her in on the training for the younger workers.

Her new supervisor rated her down and told her to get a new job. However, for some odd reason, Sandia wouldn’t allow her to apply for any job that she had the training to complete or any job where she had previous experience. Well, the reason isn’t really odd – they wanted her out. She got older. Sandia tolerates and even promotes attacking older employees who they see as slow and stupid and expensive. So Geneva, prohibited from applying for any job that she was qualified for, couldn’t find a new job with no experience. Say you’re a physicist at Sandia, and they tell you to get a new job, what are the chances you’re going to make it into writing code for satellites? About zero.

Geneva went to HR. Not surprisingly, they only protected the company and probably applauded as Geneva was forced to  walk out the door. Another troublesome gray-haired employee off the books. High five! Time for happy hour!

Unfortunately, Geneva’s  suit didn’t mention the manager’s or HR quack’s names, so we can’t put them on the wall of shame. There are some decent managers at Sandia, but you have to watch out for the discriminatory quacks. Geneva was forced out in January 2014. So someone probably remembers who her manager was. Let us know, and we’ll put him/her on the wall of shame.