What Federal Laws Protect Nuclear Whistleblowers?
Whistleblowers in the nuclear power and nuclear weapons industries are specifically protected under section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act.
Who Is Protected?
Private sector employees and federal employees working for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Department of Energy.
Who Can File a Complaint?
Any employee who believes he or she has been discriminated against in retaliation for "blowing the whistle" on a nuclear safety problem.
What is Illegal Discrimination?
Almost any adverse change to the whistleblower’s terms and conditions of employment is prohibited. This includes a wide range of actions from reprimands to terminations and blacklisting.
Where Should Complaints Be Filed?
These laws are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Complaints must be filed in writing and should be filed with the local OSHA Office of the DOL and/or mailed to:
U.S. Department of Labor
Office of the Assistant Secretary
Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Room: S2315
200 Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20210
What Are the Statutes Of Limitations?
A nuclear industry employee filing a complaint under the Energy Reorganization Act must file within 180 days.
Do Other Laws Protect Whistleblowers?
Many states have enacted laws to protect whistleblowers. Most of these laws have a longer statue of limitations and other benefits unavailable under federal law. If an employee is reporting fraud by a government contractor, these concerns may be covered under the False Claims Act. To report these concerns, please fill out our confidential Attorney Referral / Report Fraud Now form.
Can I file in Federal Court?
The Atomic Energy Act was recently amended to permit employees to file claims in federal court if the DOL fails to issue its final decision within one year.
What remedies are available to employees under the Sarbanes Oxley whistleblower law?
- Backpay with interest
- A complete “make whole” remedy (including restoration of seniority/sick leave, etc)
- Compensatory damages (for emotional distress and loss of professional reputation)
- Attorneys’ fees and costs
- “Affirmative Relief” (such as requiring a letter of apology and formal posting of the decision)
Exemplary damages are available under the Safe Drinking Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act.
To view a major decision on damages in a nuclear case, see Hobby v. Georgia Power Co.