Y-12 worker sues CNS for lost vacation

cnsA complaint filed Tuesday in Anderson County Circuit Court challenges a government contractor’s authority to change the vested vacation benefit for employees at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

The lawsuit against Consolidated Nuclear Security — a contractor team that includes Bechtel National, Lockheed Martin and other companies — was filed on behalf of Richard Michelhaugh, a Clinton resident who has worked at Y-12 for the more than 28 years.

In the complaint, Knoxville attorney Greg Coleman proposes that the action be broadened to include others actively employed at Y-12 — as well as some recent retirees affected financially by the end-of-year benefit changes. The retirees reportedly lost the payout for vacation time that had been accrued but unused.

CNS did not immediately provide comment on the lawsuit.

There has been a firestorm of complaints by Y-12 employees and retirees about benefits changes since CNS took over management of the Oak Ridge plant — and its sister plant, Pantex — last year, but this apparently is the first lawsuit to seek reinstatement of old benefits.

The lawsuit said CNS distributed a “Standing Order” on Dec. 11, 2014, informing the plaintiff and other Y-12 employees were informed on Dec. 11, 2004.

The CNS order reportedly replaced the vacation, personal and sick leave for salaried Y-12 employees with accrued “Paid Time Off” or PTO.

Portions of the Vacation Plan previously in place were not “compatible” with the new PTO policy or Consolidated Nuclear Security’s contract with the Department of Energy, the order states.

The complaint apparently pertains to Y-12 salaried workers paid on a weekly or monthly basis and does not include hourly workers covered by union contracts that have to be negotiated.

The lawsuit seeks the reinstatement of the previous Vacation Plant and restoration of benefits, as well as monetary damages to the Michelhaugh and other Y-12 employees, legal costs and “further relief as may be deemed necessary and proper.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.