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More than 720 workers join lawsuit to sue Y-12 contractor over unpaid overtime

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 727 hourly workers, alleges Consolidated Nuclear Security intentionally failed to pay overtime for at least the past three years.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — More than 720 hourly workers are suing Y-12 National Security Complex's management contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security, alleging the contractor intentionally failed to pay them overtime they were due for at least the past three years.

The Law Office of Garry Ferraris filed the lawsuit in East Tennessee's U.S. District Court in Knoxville on behalf of 727 hourly workers employed by CNS at the Y-12 complex, including electric line workers, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, welders, asbestos working mechanics, carpenters, machinists, radiological control technicians, and others.

The lawsuit said the workers were employed by CNS under its current management and operating contract with the National Nuclear Security Administration. That contract was originally set to expire on September 30 after the NNSA in 2020 expressed dissatisfaction with longstanding issues it noted with CNS over safety and security issues at Y-12 and the Pantex Plant in Texas, but the NNSA announced in June it would seek a short-term extension with CNS for at least two months because it had yet to select a contractor to take over.

The lawsuit alleges CNS violated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 -- saying CNS deprived workers of lawful wages by having them work hours beyond their 40-hours each week off the clock. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed CNS "intentionally and repeatedly" underreported overtime hours employees had to spend changing clothes and performing miscellaneous work activities required for their job.

The lawsuit said the workers did work that routinely exposed them to hazards such as electric shock, fire, uranium, asbestos and other toxic substances -- requiring them to wear protective clothing to safely do their job. The lawsuit said CNS did not qualify for an exemption to exclude any time spent changing clothes as part of the work day.

In a statement to 10News, CNS said it is aware of the lawsuit and is investigating the allegations.

"We believe we are paying our employees consistent with both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the contract terms negotiated with our labor unions," CNS said.  

The workers are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, including damages and overtime compensation owed under the FLSA in an amount to be determined at trial.

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