BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Jagdish Laul, 78, who was born in India and has been a United States citizen since 1974, has filed a complaint against the New Mexico Environment Department alleging discrimination and retaliation due to his age and national origin.
A regular attendee and familiar face at NMED hearings and Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board meetings, Laul is a former Los Alamos National Laboratory employee. Court records in a case he filed against LANL related to two White Rock buildings he formerly leased to LANS, indicate that he worked at the Lab from 1999 until he was terminated in 2013.
The complaint against NMED alleges Laul applied for nine positions with the agency between October 2015 and August 2018 but was not interviewed for any of them. Laul claims he timely filed charges of discrimination and retaliation for five of the nine positions. His suit says he was well-qualified for all nine positions, that he has “a strong educational background, excellent credentials, relevant professional certifications and approximately 38 years of experience in various scientific disciplines”. Laul claims he was deemed qualified for all nine of the positions.
The suit says that after not receiving in interview for the first four position, Laul made a complaint to NMED asking why he was never interviewed although he had high ratings for the positions. He claims that when he complained again in 2017 to NMED, the hiring manager yelled at him and hung up on him.
Laul says he applied for another position a few days later but again was not offered an interview.
“The individuals selected for each job description were younger, white applicants with less experience and education compared to (Laul),” the complaint states.
Laul is seeking lost wages and benefits as well as damages for emotional stress and attorneys fees. He has requested a six-person jury trial. Although the case has been filed in First Judicial District Court, there is no indication that NMED has yet been served. The case has been assigned to Judge Raymond Z. Ortiz.
Laul is also involved in a suit against LANL which was filed in 2016 in connection with two buildings in White Rock which were leased from him by LANL from 2002 until April 2016. That case claims that following his termination by LANL in 2013, he filed discrimination and retaliation complaints in 2014 and 2015.
Laul claims that LANL forced him to relinquish his badge due to his termination but he was still able to visit his property using a visitor’s badge. He claims he was eventually denied any badge and sent a “threatening email” stating that if he were to enter his property it would be considered trespass. Laul says he repeatedly requested to have the ban lifted to that he could visit his buildings to fulfill his contractual duties as landlord. He claims he was required to relinquish his keys and notified that the lease of his property was not being renewed.
The suit claims breach of contract by LANL, damage to the property, removal of furniture belonging to Laul and denial of access to the buildings.
LANL has requested a hearing in this case to compel arbitration however no date has yet been set.