A federal judge has ordered Savannah River Remediation to again pay a significant sum to a former employee, who a jury found was retaliated against years ago.
U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs' Jan. 17 order grants more than $55,000 in interest and $240,000 in front pay to Adrienne Saulsberry, an African American woman who sued the Savannah River Site liquid-waste contractor in 2016.
Six years of front pay is fair, Childs explained in her opinion, because of the degraded relationship between Saulsberry, the plaintiff, and Savannah River Remediation, the defendant. Saulsberry had lobbied for 16 years of front pay.
"Here, there can be no question that the events underlying Saulsberry's claims of retaliation have, before, during, and after litigation, resulted in a substantial degree of hostility between the parties," the judge said.
Saulsberry had already been awarded more than $1.47 million, court records show.
Saulsberry was laid off from Savannah River Remediation, an AECOM-led venture, in 2013 as part of a broader workforce reduction. She claimed she was "unfairly targeted" because of her race and known plans to move up the job ladder; her initial court complaint alleged both retaliation and racial discrimination.
A jury late last year unanimously found Saulsberry was not rehired by Savannah River Remediation in 2014 and 2015 because she had previously participated in "protected activity," including a discrimination probe.
The same jury found racial discrimination was not a factor in the contractor's decision-making.
Savannah River Remediation has been in charge of the liquid-waste mission – processing millions of gallons of nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site, among other tasks – for about a decade now.