On May 24, 2019, LVBH won a $325,000 jury verdict in Alameda County Superior Court against the UC Regents and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on behalf of Kathy Eidson, a long-time employee of the Lab. Ms. Eidson began working at the Lab in 2001 as an electrician. In 2006, she fell off a ladder and suffered an injury, requiring extensive recovery. After she returned to work with some work restrictions, including that she could not work from a ladder.
In February 2011, she was moved into a new position, with a new title and raise. A few months later, Ms. Eidson discovered that all the other employees in her department who were doing the same work had been given a different title (technical supervisor) and were paid more. All of Ms. Eidson’s colleagues were men. Finding this disparity, she began to complain about the failure to properly classify and promote her.
At trial, the jury heard evidence that at the end of 2011, Ms. Eidson got a new boss, who began making disparaging comments about women in the trades. Over the next two years, he repeatedly made comments about her skills and perceptions among her colleagues about her, and then began stripping her of supervisory duties. In January 2014, Ms. Eidson filed a formal complaint for discrimination, and failure to pay her commensurate with her male colleagues. In response to the complaint, the Lab hired a former HR employee of the Lab as an “outside investigator.” Although he did not reach any conclusion about the discrimination allegations, he found that Ms. Eidson was credible, that there appeared to be a problem with her pay and classification, and that her Boss had rated her performance worse than her male comparators. The investigator also reported that when he interviewed the boss, the boss made comments about her that reflected gender-stereotyping.
The Lab did not take any further action with respect to the complaint. However, because the Lab claimed that Ms. Eidson’s relationship with her boss was “broken,” the Lab pushed her to move to another department. Ms. Eidson twice rejected the suggestion. Then, the Lab unilaterally reassigned her, claiming that the restrictions issued to Ms. Eidson following her work injury in 2006 prevented her from continuing in her position. Although the written restrictions said only she could not work off ladders (and Ms. Eidson had been doing the job for years), the Lab took the position that she could not climb on ladders and required that she transfer into another department doing documentation. So, she was forced to move.
After a three week trial in Alameda County Superior Court, Ms. Eidson prevailed before the jury on her claims for disability discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent discrimination, and was awarded $325,000.