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Lawsuit over sexual harassment at Los Alamos lab settled

SANTA FE, N.M. — A lawsuit against Los Alamos National Laboratory and its former Emergency Operations Division leader over alleged long-running sexual harassment in the workplace has been settled.

John Day, attorney for Erika and William Gorman, said today he couldn’t comment on the settlement or the amount of any payment to the Gormans. The lawsuit had alleged that longtime LANL supervisor Anthony Stanford committed assault and battery against Erika Gorman.

It also charges that Los Alamos National Security, which operates the lab, was negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Stanford, who last year retired from the lab after nearly 20 years as a lab employee.

In an email, a lab spokesman provided this statement: “The Laboratory is pleased that the matter has been settled. Terms of the settlement are being kept private. And, due to employee privacy, we do not discuss specific personnel actions.”

The lawsuit maintained that the lab gave him a choice to either retire with full benefits or be terminated. “That’s one of the concerns we have — that the lab essentially rewarded him for his behavior,” said Day when the lawsuit was filed.

The suit was filed the day after criminal charges against Stanford based on allegations also raised in the lawsuit were dismissed in Magistrate Court. Stanford had pleaded not guilty to two charges of battery and two charges of assault.

According to the lawsuit, Erika Gorman was an emergency planning and preparedness specialist and she and her husband, who works in the same department, came under Stanford’s supervision when he was transferred to the lab’s Chemical Metallurgy Research department.

Within two weeks of Stanford’s transfer during the summer of 2012, he allegedly approached Erika Gorman in the parking lot, told her he found her attractive and that if she was not married he would “pursue her hard.”

During another encounter about a week later, the suit says, Stanford told her he found her to be sexually desirable and that he was having difficulty concentrating on work.

Despite her telling him that she was happily married and not interested in a romantic relationship, Stanford allegedly became more persistent and comments he made toward her became more graphic and vulgar. He allegedly told a group of men at a LANL Christmas party that she was a $500-pernight prostitute, the suit says.

The lawsuit alleges that Stanford propositioned her for sex on a daily basis, offered her expensive gifts in exchange for sex and occasionally touched her thigh and other parts of her body.

Erika Gorman reported the harassment to a lab associate director, the human resources department and finally to police, the suit alleged. A few weeks later, she was granted a temporary restraining order against Stanford.

The day after the retraining order was granted, LANL offered Stanford the option to retire with benefits or be terminated, according to the suit.