The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has stated it expects nuclear power plants to operate in a “safety-conscious work environment” that allows employees to “raise safety concerns.” An employee of one such power plant states she was illegally fired after she voiced safety concerns to management.
The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the claim. OSHA found the worker helped investigate the federal facility for safety violations and was within whistleblower protections at the time of her termination. As a result, the agency ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to reinstate a federal employee to her position.
What can other federal employees learn from this case?
Her case is an example of a successful retaliation claim. The employee’s success had two key results, benefiting both herself individually and the workplace as a whole.
- Benefits to the workplace. The case led to a requirement the employer post information about whistleblower protections. OSHA’s intention is to help better ensure other workers help hold the federal employer accountable if it fails to operate as expected.
- Benefits to the individual. As for the individual benefit, in addition to renewed employment, she will also receive $123,460 in backpay, an additional $33,835 in compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.
The success of this case also provides hope for other workers who are in a similar situation, who fear their workplace does not follow federal safety guidelines. Those in this situation have options. An attorney experienced in federal employment legal matters can help.