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Montaño settled case to preserve lab worker rights

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Whistleblower: Auditor feared protections would be obliterated

By Carol A. Clark

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three part series.

A major reason Chuck Montano said that he decided to settle his complaint against the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “besides the fact that it had dragged on for over five years,” was because of the judge assigned to the case.

“Sen. Pete Domenici, a big champion of the lab, nominated Judge Judith Herrera to the federal bench and she has a reputation of looking unfavorably on plaintiffs challenging the lab,” Montano said. “Most recently, she ruled against the Los Alamos Study Group on their Environmental Impact Study request related to the CMRR complex. The lab in my case, through it’s attorneys (Rodey Law Firm) had already gotten this judge to rule in their favor on a motion that would have made it easier for LANL to terminate employees if they had at any point in their employment history signed off on a settlement of a prior claim against the lab.”

Montano had done so previously, regarding the Reduction In Force (RIF) suit he’d filed in the mid 1990s.