Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court Charges Violations of Federal and New Mexico Civil Rights Laws
Albuquerque, New Mexico – Attorneys Kelly Dermody of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and David Lopez of Outten & Golden LLP announce the filing of a federal class action lawsuit in New Mexico alleging that Sandia National Laboratories has engaged in systemic and pervasive discrimination against its female employees.
The lawsuit, Kennicott v. Sandia National Laboratories, filed by three current and former employees, accuses Sandia of engaging in a pattern and practice of gender discrimination against its female employees. Sandia National Laboratories, a Department of Energy research and development contractor, is operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. In addition to its work devoted to the United States’ nuclear weapons systems, Sandia performs national security research in such fields as computer science, engineering, biology, and mathematics. In 2015, Sandia employed approximately 11,700 individuals, with nearly all employees working at its Albuquerque, New Mexico and San Francisco Bay Area laboratories. Sandia’s operating budget was $2.8 billion in 2015, and it is the third-largest employer in Albuquerque.
The plaintiffs allege violations of federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. The plaintiff class is represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and Outten & Golden LLP.
The plaintiffs allege that “[a]s a result of Sandia’s policies, patterns, and practices, female employees receive less compensation and are promoted less frequently than their male counterparts.” Furthermore, “Sandia’s company-wide policies and practices systematically violate female employees’ rights and operate in a corporate culture infected with gender bias.”
“Today, these brave plaintiffs have taken the difficult step of filing a lawsuit that is intended not merely to help themselves but to change the playing field for women at Sandia,” plaintiffs’ attorney Kelly Dermody said. “Together, it is our hope that cases like this will ensure that future generations of young women will see a great career path in science, technology, and national security.”
The complaint further alleges that Sandia employs a performance evaluation system that systemically rates female employees less favorably compared to equally or worse-performing male peers.
”These plaintiffs had the courage to come forward to address barriers to the advancement of women in a male-dominated field,” David Lopez said. “With this action we hope to change broad-based patterns of sex discrimination in compensation, promotion, and performance systems, so that qualified female employees will be judged by their talents and skill without regard to their gender.”
Attorneys Kelly Dermody, Lin Chan, Anne Shaver, and Michael Levin-Gesundheit of Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein, LLP and David Lopez, Adam Klein, and Elizabeth Stork of Outten & Golden LLP represent the plaintiffs. David Lopez served as general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2010 to 2016. The case is Kennicott v. Sandia National Laboratories, Case No. 17-cv-188 (D.N.M.).
People interested in the lawsuit may provide information by visiting sandiagendercase.com or by calling 1-800-541-7358 to leave a message for plaintiffs’ counsel. Members of the media can also obtain a copy of the complaint and this press release at sandiagendercase.com.
About the Plaintiffs
Lisa Kennicott worked at Sandia from 1995 to 1998 and has been continuously employed at Sandia from 1999 to the present. Her current title is Principal Member of Technical Staff. She holds a master’s degree in computer science.
Lisa A. Garcia has worked at Sandia since 1988. Her current title is Principal Technologist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and a certificate in electronics.
Sue Phelps worked at Sandia from 1989 until her retirement in 2016. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s computer science, and a Ph.D. in computer science. She is an author of several published, peer-reviewed articles in the field of computer science.
About the Law Firms
The plaintiffs are represented by two law firms: national class action firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and plaintiffs’ employment firm Outten & Golden LLP. These firms also represented female professionals in the Amochaev v. Smith Barney gender discrimination case, which resulted in a $33 million settlement, and they currently represent women in the ongoing gender discrimination class action against Goldman Sachs, Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft, Moussouris v. Microsoft.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is a 74-attorney firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, Nashville, and Seattle. Lieff Cabraser has represented plaintiffs in a wide variety of class action litigation, including employment discrimination and civil rights, wage suppression, and pension benefits litigation. It has represented many plaintiffs in litigation against science and technology companies, including serving as class counsel in the Silicon Valley no-poaching case, In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, which resulted in settlements totaling $435 million. Currently, Lieff Cabraser is lead counsel in the nationwide consumer fraud class action against Volkswagen, In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Litigation, Case No. MDL 2672 (N.D. Cal.). More information on the firm can be found at lieffcabraser.com.
Outten & Golden LLP is a 52-attorney firm with offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. O&G represents plaintiffs in a wide variety of employment law matters, including national class and impact discrimination cases, major class-based wage and hour violations, and contract negotiations. O&G represented plaintiff-intervenor Allison Schieffelin in a pattern or practice sex discrimination suit prosecuted with the EEOC against Morgan Stanley that resulted in a $54 million settlement and substantial injunctive relief. O&G was also lead counsel in Gonzales, et al., v. Pritzker, Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce, a landmark class action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of thousands of African-American and Latino job seekers alleging that the Census Bureau’s criminal background check had a disparate impact on African-American and Latino applicants for jobs related to the 2010 census. That case resulted in an historic settlement that requires the Census Bureau to replace its discriminatory use of criminal records with job-related requirements to determine who is eligible for essential entry-level jobs. The firm has handled discrimination claims against numerous Fortune 500 firms. More information on the firm can be found at outtengolden.com.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Outten & Golden LLP