Tungsten Parts Wyoming, a manufacturing business in West Laramie, has settled a lawsuit brought by several former employees.
In their lawsuit, the former employees accused the company of defamation, wrongful termination and whistleblower retaliation. The federal lawsuit was dismissed Monday, and both parties are responsible for paying their attorney fees.
The dispute between Tungsten and the plaintiffs — largely former executives and engineers — led to an FBI investigation.
According to an April 29 court filing from the plaintiffs, Tungsten has also become the subject of a criminal investigation conducted by the United States Department of Defense.
Because of a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement, parties have not revealed the terms of the settlement.
However, Tungsten announced in a press release that Joseph Serov — the company’s founder, owner and former chairman — has resigned. Serov was formerly known as Joseph Sery before recently changing his name.
Serov’s actions were the basis for most of the allegations in the ex-employees’ lawsuit.
In January, Serov told the Boomerang that the plaintiffs had stolen company property, including the theft of drawings, documents, computers and sample products.
Serov also specifically accused Dennis Omanoff of trying to lead a “hostile takeover.”
Omanoff briefly served as executive vice president, and then briefly as CEO, at Tungsten in 2019.
“They’re all following him. He’s the leader,” Serov said in January. “They have been just constantly trying to cause damage by going around to various institutions and customers and spreading false information.”
In Tungsten’s July 31 press release, the company said Serov’s comments that the employees engaged in misconduct were “untrue.”
“As part of a resolution with the employees, (Tungsten) retracts statements made by Joseph Serov to the Laramie Boomerang alleging the employees engaged in misconduct,” CEO J.P. Batache stated in the press release. “Mr. Serov was going through an emotional period in his life, in addition to the emotions and stressors of the lawsuit itself, when he made the concerning remarks regarding the employees. Mr. Serov has since resigned and retired and is no longer with the companies. The companies make this statement to correct the public record and wish to formally retract Mr. Serov’s remarks.”
Tungsten recently received between $350,000 and $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program funding from the federal government as part of the CARES Act response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Small Business Administration has not revealed the precise amount of funding that Tungsten received.
In addition to the allegations of defamation and wrongful termination, the lawsuit from former employees also accused Tungsten of misleading its customers into believing that all its products are manufactured in the U.S.
The employees said that Tungsten often had parts manufactured in China.
During Serov’s tenure, the company’s website prominently boasted that “all these jobs have been brought back from China.”
“The just proves how much the company takes pride in American workmanship, and how much it values goods that are ‘Made in the USA,’” the website said.
However, much of the information about Tungsten’s Laramie operation, including information about its “Made in the USA” pledge, has recently been removed from the website.
Tungsten’s clients include major aerospace and defense companies, including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and Northrup Grumman.
The ex-employees also accused Tungsten of violating federal regulations for defense contractors, including the rule that prohibits the use of companies that are part of the Chinese “defense industrial base” to manufacture products for the Department of Defense.
When asked about the status of Tungsten’s past and current compliance with federal regulations, an attorney representing the company, Mandy Good, told the Boomerang in an Wednesday email that her client is “committed to continuing to comply with all legal and regulatory obligations, as well as providing long-term jobs and other economic benefits to Laramie and the State of Wyoming.”
Originally based in San Diego, Tungsten was recruited by the Wyoming Business Council to move to Laramie.
After substantial work by both local and state officials, Serov relocated the company to Laramie and began manufacturing here in 2017.
The state provided a $3 million grant for the construction of Tungsten’s building that was completed in 2016.
The Albany County Assessor’s Office currently lists the building’s owner as J & R Enterprises LLC.
Serov’s email is currently listed as contact information for that company by the Wyoming Secretary of State.
Regarding Serov's ownership status of the building, Good said that “Serov has retired and the companies are in the process of completing various reporting and contact information processes regarding ownership matters.”