Savannah River Nuclear Solutions to pay nearly $235K to 72 employees
in wage discrimination settlement with US Labor Department
Investigators find federal contractor underpaid some female and African American workers
AIKEN, S.C. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions will pay $234,895 and review its personnel policies to resolve allegations of systemic pay discrimination at its site in Aiken. A compliance review by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found that the management company for the Savannah River nuclear site discriminated against women in some engineering, technical and administrative positions. The review also determined that African Americans were underpaid in certain operation specialist positions.
"Workers often don't know how their pay compares with that of their colleagues, so discrimination like this can go undetected. That's why OFCCP's ability to conduct audits of contractors' pay practices is critical to closing pay gaps based on race and gender," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu, who represents the department on President Obama's National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force.
OFCCP investigators determined that from 2009 to 2010, Savannah River paid 57 female employees less than their male counterparts, and 15 African American employees less than their white counterparts. The agency found a statistically significant difference in pay even after taking into account legitimate factors affecting pay. The company denied liability, but entered into a conciliation agreement to resolve the alleged violations.
"Women and African Americans are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions. It is disturbing that at Savannah River, we found that many were employed in a STEM job, but were paid less than male or white counterparts because of discrimination," said OFCCP Southeast Regional Director Samuel Maiden.
Executive Order 11246 mandates that federal contractors must not discriminate in pay or other compensation on the basis of sex or race. Savannah River is a federal contractor.
In addition to back pay, the company will evaluate whether promotion decisions, performance evaluation ratings, procedures for assigning work, training opportunities, leave policies, assigning applicants to jobs, and limiting job transfers have a negative effect on compensation of women and African Americans.
Savannah River will also develop new policies to eliminate practices that affect compensation of women and African Americans adversely. The company will conduct an annual compensation analysis during the term of the conciliation agreement. If the analysis shows systemic race- or gender-based pay disparities, Savannah will increase the salaries of women and African Americans.
A partnership of Fluor Corp., Honeywell International Inc. and Newport News Nuclear Inc., Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has a contract to maintain and operate the Savannah River site, a nuclear reservation built in the 1950s. It is the only source for new tritium gas for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and the corporate laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy's environmental management work, which includes nuclear material disposition, waste management and environmental cleanup. Obligated contract amounts range from $2.5 billion in 2009 to $948 million in 2014 and more than $500 million in 2015.
In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. As amended, these three laws require those doing business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.
OFCCP News Release: [08/12/2015]
Contact Name: Michael D'Aquino or Lindsay Williams
Phone Number: (678) 237-0630
Email: D'Aquino.Michael@dol.gov or firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Number: 15-1152-ATL