On October 12, 2012, Judge Robert B. Freedman of the Alameda County (California) Superior Court issued a ruling in a 19-page decision allowing 130 plaintiffs’ claims of disparate impact age discrimination to proceed to trial. The defendant, Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, a private company made up of Bechtel and its partners, asked the Court to throw out the age discrimination claim, arguing that a layoff of 430 employees in 2008 did not target older workers. Under California law, employees over the age of 40 are protected against age discrimination. The plaintiffs in this case are 130 former employees whose average age is 54, and who worked for the Lab an average of 20 years. All of them were terminated during the mass layoff in May of 2008, just seven months after the Bechtel-led company won the contract from the Department of Energy to manage the national nuclear laboratory in Livermore.
Judge Freedman, in his October 12, 2012 order — made available on October 16 — ruled that plaintiffs had presented sufficient statistical evidence that the layoff had a disproportionate impact on employees over the age of 40, and that a jury will be permitted to decide whether the lab could have pursued alternatives to the terminations which would not have resulted in age discrimination.
This ruling follows three and one-half years of litigation, during which defendant has filed numerous motions, including demurrers, motions to strike, writs, motions for summary adjudication, motions to continue trial and motions for separate trials. The October 12, 2012, ruling means, once and for all, that plaintiffs’ age discrimination cases will proceed to trial.
Lead plaintiffs’ attorney J. Gary Gwilliam stated, “Our clients have waited a long time for this trial. We look forward to having a jury hear this case as soon as possible.”
A hearing is scheduled for November 1, 2012, to schedule the trial date, which is expected to take place in December or January 2013.
The case is Andrews, et al. v. Lawrence Livermore National security, LLC. Case No. RG09453596.