$200k reward leads to worker’s termination for noose at federal project

Dive Brief:

  • The consortium running the $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility construction site at the federal Y-12 facility in Tennessee fired a worker after tips from a $200,000 reward hotline connected the person to a noose discovered there in June.
  • “Our organization offered a substantial reward for the proper identification of the individual or individuals involved in the incident,” North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey said in a statement. “Based on tips provided to the NABTU reward line, the individual has been identified, and his employment has been terminated.”
  • An NABTU spokesperson told Construction Dive payment of the reward was in process, and that the outcome shows offering rewards to identify the perpetrators of these kinds of actions works. “The tips brought the person to justice,” Betsy Barrett, director of marketing and communications for NABTU, said.

Dive Insight:

Neither NABTU nor Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, the consortium that’s majority-owned by Reston, Virginia-based Bechtel, which runs the Y-12 site, commented on whether they would seek criminal prosecution of the individual for a hate crime. When the noose was found at the site last month, an FBI spokesperson said the agency was aware of the incident, and in regular contact with local authorities. But the agency had no comment Tuesday as to whether it would seek prosecution now.

The identification and firing of a worker in the case stands out compared to other, similar incidents in construction. For example, Amazon and contractor R.C. Andersen offered a $100,000 reward for information about the perpetrator of several nooses placed on a fulfillment center construction site in Connecticut last year. Despite worldwide media attention, no arrests were ever made in the case, local police confirmed, and the reward was never collected, according to an Amazon spokesperson. 

The firing also follows a similar outcome at a Meta (formerly Facebook) datacenter construction site in Utah run by M.A. Mortenson, where a noose was found earlier this year. In that case, a worker who came forward and admitted placing the noose was terminated. Since George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, dozens of racist incidents have emerged on major commercial construction jobsites, including the hanging of nooses and hateful graffiti. But rarely have any suspects been identified.

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