Man, 78, sues New Mexico agency, claiming hiring discrimination

November 14, 2018

Jagdish C. Laul does not give up easily.

When he was fired from his position as a safety analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2013 after 14 years of employment, he applied for 12 other lab jobs.

He wasn’t hired for any of them, online court records say, so Laul, a native of India who is now 78, sued the lab, saying he’d been a victim of age and national-origin discrimination.

The complaint says he had received excellent performance reviews for years before his firing — which came after some poor assessments by a new manager — and that he was encouraged to apply for other positions at the lab.

LANL did not respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

The U.S. District Court in New Mexico decided the case in favor of the lab in 2016, and Laul appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He continued to pursue the case after that court’s ruling affirmed the U.S. District Court’s decision; he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in June declined to hear his case.

Laul has since filed a new lawsuit in the state District Court in Santa Fe, making similar claims of discrimination against the New Mexico Environment Department.

In his most recent complaint, Laul says he applied for nine jobs with the state agency from 2015 to 2017 and was never given an interview for any of the positions — all of which, he says, were filled by younger, white applicants with less education and experience.

Laul says in the lawsuit that he has a strong education background for the Environment Department jobs, excellent credentials, relevant professional certifications and “approximately 38 years of experience in various scientific disciplines.”

After he was passed over for the first four positions, he says, he complained to the agency, asking why he wasn’t interviewed. He continued to face discrimination — as well as retaliation — after the complaint, he says, by being passed over for subsequent jobs.

Laul called the department in August 2017 to renew his complaint, the lawsuit says, alleging the department’s hiring manager yelled at him and hung up the phone.

A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department said Tuesday the agency had not yet been served with the lawsuit and doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Laul’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

Laul says the department’s actions violate the New Mexico Human Rights Act and have caused him lost wages and benefits, emotional distress and attorney’s fees.

He’s seeking an unspecified of amount of compensatory damages and reimbursement for court costs.

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