After 44 years of employment with URS Corporation, a whistleblower from the company was laid off during early October. Senator Ron Wyden, in support of the former employee, wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz demanding answers. He believes the intent behind the whistleblower dismissal is clear: to discourage employees at Hanford and throughout the nuclear weapons complex from raising health or safety concerns, as the man did in 2010.
When the Hanford Nuclear Reservation – a $12.3 billion facility – was under construction, the whistleblower held a managerial position for URS. He encountered safety issues with the nuclear waste treatment plant and raised them with the company. He received a demotion and was relegated to a position which, according to Wyden, was in “a basement cubicle in Richland with no meaningful work.”
Eventually, the demotion led to termination, which Wyden views as retaliation.
Private contractor URS provided different reasons for the whistleblower’s layoff.
In a news release, the company said, “While we will not comment on specific matters, in recent months URS has reduced employment levels in our federal sector business due to budgetary constraints. URS encourages its employees to raise any concerns about safety, which remains the company’s highest priority.”
The former employee filed lawsuits against URS and the U.S. Department of Energy, but they were dismissed before going to trial. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear his case on November 7.
If a whistleblower faces retaliation for his or her just act, and nothing is done about it, it sets a dangerous precedent that allows companies to get away with illegal or wrongful behavior. The Seattle whistle blower attorneys at Teller & Associates, PLLC believe whistleblowers should not be silenced out of fear of losing their livelihoods. That is why we provide our whistleblowing clients committed and aggressive representation. We will use the full extent of our abilities to protect your future while you bring your company’s wrongdoings to light. Give us a call today at (206) 324-8969.