SRS Sign, Centerra-SRS Lawsuit

An entrance to the Savannah River Site. Centerra-SRS is the longtime paramilitary security contractor there.

A court recently sided with Savannah River Site paramilitary security contractor Centerra-SRS in an ongoing federal discrimination lawsuit, agreeing that a former employee's complaint and allegations were filed too slowly and too late.

The decision was detailed in a Jan. 29 report and recommendation from U.S. Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett, and echoes earlier rulings made by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency responsible for enforcing federal discrimination laws.

"The defendants argue the sole cause of action raised in plaintiff's complaint is barred by the statute of limitations," Gosset wrote. "The court agrees."

The former employee, Marcialena Tremble Brown, an African American woman from Georgia, first sued Centerra-SRS in July 2019, alleging she was racially discriminated against and that her employment was ended unjustly.

"I felt that the company's decision was unfair and discriminatory," Brown wrote in a notice to the EEOC.

Brown was fired in May 2015 after she left her M4 rifle unattended in a women's restroom for about five minutes, according to her commission notice and several other court documents. In 2016, she filed a charge of discrimination against Centerra-SRS with the EEOC.

In late 2018, Brown learned that a white officer "committed the same offense" – leaving a Glock handgun, among other things, unattended in a unisex restroom – and was given a written warning, a relative "slap on the hand," according to Brown.

She filed a second charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The commission found the filing untimely.

"Here," Gossett explained in her report, Brown "failed to pursue her claim with diligence." 

Brown was a 16-year employee of Centerra-SRS, court documents show.

Centerra-SRS, a subsidiary of Centerra Group, is in charge of protecting the Savannah River Site – a sprawling nuclear reservation 30 minutes south of Aiken – around the clock. That includes police and investigatory work.

Brown had at first represented herself in the lawsuit. She has since retained legal representation.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin