Monday, March 20, 2023
March 20, 2023

Linkedin Pinterest

Hanford contractor accused of Latino hiring discrimination. Applicants to get back wages


KENNEWICK — The tank farm contractor at the Hanford nuclear reservation has agreed to pay back wages and interest to Hispanic job applicants to settle allegations of hiring discrimination.

Washington River Protection Solutions will pay $157,000 in total to 161 Hispanic applicants who applied for jobs as health physics technician trainees in 2019.

Applicants for the training program in 2019 were given a a candidate aptitude test that Latino applicants failed at a higher rate than non-Hispanic applicants.

It also will make job offers to those who are eligible, said the U.S. Department of Labor in an announcement of what it called an early resolution agreement with the Hanford contractor.

WRPS also must revise and monitor its selection process, personnel practices and hiring policies for work at the Hanford site adjoining Richland, part of the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington.

“Federal contractors are obliged to provide all applicants with equal employment opportunities to make certain all workers have a fair shot at getting and keeping good paying jobs,” said Jane Suhr, Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs regional director.

Jobs at Hanford are highly sought after because of their good pay and benefits.

Department of Energy projects, which include both Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, account for about 11.3% of jobs in Benton and Franklin counties. But they pay about 23.4% of all wages in the two counties, according to the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC).

WRPS, owned by Amentum and Atkins, has admitted no liability. The test with results that raised concerns is no longer used.

“WRPS has a long history of hiring a qualified and diverse workforce,” the contractor said in a statement.

While WRPS does not agree with Department of Labor concerns, “This was an opportunity to work collaboratively with the agency to close out a very old audit,” it said.

The voluntary agreement “will help further our goal of being a model employer and federal contractor,” it said.

WRPS has 90 days to train all employees involved in recruiting and selecting applicants for the training program in question on appropriate standards.

That will include neutral application of qualifications and criteria used at each step of the hiring process and procedures used to document decisions.

WRPS has agreed to monitor selection rates for the training program and provide information to the Department of Labor on the number of people who apply and who are hired by ethnicity.

Progress reports must be provided through 2023.

Federal contractors are prohibited from discriminating in employment based on race, sex, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.

From 2008 to 2021, WRPS received more than $7 billion in federal contracts and continues as the tank farm contractor under contract extensions.

The contractor is responsible for 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous chemical waste left from the past production of plutonium at the Hanford site.

Its work includes retrieving waste from underground leak-prone tanks to transfer to newer tanks and pretreating some of the waste to allow it to be turned into a stable glass form for disposal as soon as the end of 2023.

More information on the settlement agreement is available at