Livermore Labs Settles Gender Discrimination Suit

November 21, 2003 ( - Charges of gender discrimination have netted the 2,500 female employees of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory a $17.9-million settlement and a 1% raise.

In addition, the settlement provides $9.7 million to 3,200 women who have worked at Livermore lab since 1996. The lab will also pay $8.2 million in attorney’s fees and give the seven plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit a total of $80,000, according to an Associated Press report.

Settlement in the case has been a long time coming. Plutonium chemist Mary Singleton and colleagues in the lab’s Women’s Association began prodding Livermore managers for the changes 15 years ago, after finding that many women there were working longer hours for less pay than men, and were being passed over for promotions. In 1998, when the lawsuit was filed, the lab had only one female associate director in nearly 50 years. Now the lab has three women holding high-level management positions.

An attorney for the plaintiffs, though, says the victory is measured in much more than dollars and cents. Per terms of the settlement, Livermore must eliminate a ranking system for administrative employees and some technicians; continue an annual survey of women’s pay and promotion; develop a written plan to encourage pay improvements and promotion; and train lab supervisors on gender discrimination.

Livermore said it already has implemented nearly all the changes as part of an overhaul of its pay, promotion and ranking system last year.