On January 10th, 2023, Outten & Golden filed a lawsuit on behalf of Victor Hwa, a Chinese-American aeronautical engineer, against his former employer, Lockheed Martin. Mr. Hwa worked for Lockheed from 2017 to 2021 as a Staff Engineer in the Propulsion Department. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Hwa had a promising career with the defense contractor until he was suddenly profiled as a so-called “insider threat” after he visited his aging grandfather in China. According to the lawsuit, he was subjected to an unwarranted security investigation and interrogation by Lockheed and a government partner. During and after the investigation, which found no wrongdoing on his part, Mr. Hwa raised concerns about the discriminatory nature of the investigation. Soon after, he was stripped of work opportunities and subjected to ongoing harassment and retaliation. His experience at Lockheed became so intolerable that he was forced to resign in May 2021. Mr. Hwa understood the targeted investigation and subsequent adverse actions to be part of the then-Trump Administration’s so-called “China Initiative,” a national security program ostensibly designed to prosecute espionage by agents of the Chinese government. The China Initiative routinized racial profiling of Chinese-American and Chinese immigrant academics, scientists, and engineers. Mr. Hwa’s case also exemplifies the uptick in bias against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants more broadly, both in and outside of the workplace, in recent years.
AttorneysJennifer Schwartz Pawanpreet Dhaliwal