OSHA has ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to reinstate a former employee who was placed on paid administrative leave and then later terminated in retaliation for raising nuclear safety concerns.
OSHA investigators determined that the TVA terminated the employee after she raised concerns regarding required technical specification surveillances, and participated in an investigation by the TVA’s Office of General Counsel of a chilled work environment, which are both protected activities under Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA).
OSHA ordered the TVA to pay the employee $123,460 in back wages and interest, and $33,835 in compensatory damages to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses and health insurance costs, as well as other expenses.
In addition to reinstatement and compensation, OSHA ordered the TVA to do the following:
- Pay the attorney’s fees of the complainant;
- Clear the complainant’s personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation;
- Refrain from retaliating against the complainant; and
- Post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under the ERA.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of ERA and more than 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.
For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.