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Livermore Lab agrees to $37-million settlement in claim by 129 laid-off employees

Workers filed suit after more than 1,000 terminated in 2008 workforce restructuring

The claims of 129 former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory workers who were laid off in 2008 have been resolved in a $37.25 million settlement in Alameda County Superior Court.

The former employees filed suit after the lab laid off more than 1,000 employees in a workforce restructuring in 2008.

In 2013, the claims of five so-called "test plaintiffs," out of 130 former employees who filed suit, were litigated in two separate jury trials.

According to the lab, the first trial, which alleged breach of the plaintiffs' employment contracts, resulted in a victory for the five test plaintiffs and an award of $2.73 million in damages

But the lab prevailed in the second trial, which alleged that the Laboratory had discriminated against older employees in making layoff decisions.

Both jury verdicts were on appeal but with the encouragement of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman the parties engaged in a months-long mediation process that resulted in the settlement.

One plaintiff didn't settle her case.

The lab said it continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the circumstances underlying the work force reduction.

The workers are represented by Oakland attorney J. Gary Gwilliam but he said the settlement precludes him from commenting on the case at this

time. Lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said she also cannot yet comment on the case.

Elaine Andrews, who worked at the lab for 30 years and was one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, said the settlement "is not what we wanted

and we haven't been made whole for our losses but it's been seven years and people need to move on."

Andrews said all of the workers who were laid off were older than 50 and they believe the lab let them go so they could get rid of older employees and hire younger people at lower wages.

Andrews said the layoffs came at a difficult time because most of the affected employees were too young to retire but too old to find another job since the U.S. had just gone into an economic downturn at the time.

"Many have lost their homes and suffered physical and mental issues from the stress of losing their livelihood," Andrews said.

The former employees also were unhappy about the manner in which they were fired, she said.

"Supervisors walked into our offices, told us we were being laid off but didn't give us a reason and said we had 30 minutes to pack up our personal belongings," she said.

The laid-off employees were then escorted by armed guards to the exit center, where their security badges were confiscated, Andrews said.

"These weren't loser employees, these were outstanding employees," Andrews said.

She said, "I had a great career there," beginning as an employee in accounts payable then becoming a group leader in procurement, a manager in the contract labor office and working in a position in the human resources department.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is operated for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration by Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, which was the defendant in the lawsuit.

— Bay City News Service

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