Ex-Hanford employee loses appeal over layoff

The Associated PressJuly 3, 2014 

RICHLAND — The state Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit brought by former Hanford worker Walter Tamosaitis regarding his layoff.

A Benton County Superior Court judge was correct to dismiss the case because Tamosaitis failed to show he had lost wages or other money as a result of being removed from work on the Hanford vitrification plant, the appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The Tri-City Herald reported that Tamosaitis — former manager of the plant’s research and technology group — planned to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. His lawsuit is against Hanford contractor Bechtel National.

Bechtel is confident that the courts will affirm their previous rulings should Tamosaitis appeal, Bechtel spokesman Todd Nelson said.

Tamosaitis has drawn national attention for his contention that he lost his job for publicly complaining that the $12.3 billion vitrification plant contains design flaws that will make it unsafe to operate.

The plant is intended to convert up to 56 million gallons of radioactive waste left from production of nuclear weapons materials into a stable glass form for disposal.

In the Benton County case, Tamosaitis’ lawsuit claimed that Bechtel had interfered with his business relationship with URS Corp. Bechtel holds the federal contract to build the vitrification plant, and URS, Tamosaitis’ former employer, is its primary subcontractor.

However, after Tamosaitis was removed from the plant in July 2010, he continued to be employed by URS until fall 2013, when he was laid off.

Tamosaitis contended that his removal resulted in him not being considered for some other positions at the vitrification plant, but there was no evidence those positions would have resulted in higher pay, according to the appeals court decision.

The court also found that he did not offer sufficient proof that he had not advanced to URS’ executive pay grades because his reputation had been damaged.

Although Tamosaitis continued to work for URS, he did not again have an assignment that approached the same level of responsibility he had at the vitrification plant, according to court documents.

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