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Livermore workers file suit for wrongful termination

Former workers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California are alleging wrongful termination after they were fired for a variety of reasons. The group of 130 former employees at the national security facility, headed by Bechtel and the University of California, is seeking compensation for wrongful termination and breach of contract. Restitution sought in the case includes financial retribution for the loss of employment and income. The suit comes in the wake of a massive layoff spree in 2009 that left 430 lab workers without work.

Attorneys for the affected employees argue that the workers were protected by contractual provisions that prohibited their termination. Employees were let go because of their age, experience and income among other factors, according to the complaint. The Department of Energy maintains that many positions were eliminated because the laboratory was moving away from nuclear weapons research; as a result, employees' services were simply no longer needed.

Seniority rules were clearly breached during the layoffs, however, with several experienced employees being displaced in favor of younger workers. One woman with 38 years of experience was ousted to make room for an employee with just over a year in the same position. The suit was allowed to proceed to trial because a judge found evidence that the layoffs unfairly targeted employees older than 40; the average age of terminated workers was 54, according to analyses.

The suit, which went to jury trial on March 11, ultimately seeks to determine whether supervisors at the facility violated contractual agreements with the employees. The workers in this case are seeking financial compensation for discrimination, emotional distress, breach of contract and retaliation, among other claims.

Employees who think they have been unfairly fired from their jobs because of their age do have recourse against their employers under existing California law. An attorney who specializes in employment discrimination would be able to provide advice and representation in a civil case against an employer who violated federal or state employment laws.

Source: insidebayarea.com, "Former Livermore lab workers say they were laid off due to age, income, other issues," Jeremy Thomas, April 9, 2013

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