After considering all the relevant information collected during the investigation, the Assistant Secretary will issue, within 60 days of filing of the complaint, written findings as to whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has retaliated against the complainant in violation of NTSSA or FRSA.
If the Assistant Secretary concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, he or she will accompany the findings with a preliminary order providing relief to the complainant. The preliminary order will include, where appropriate: a requirement that the respondent abate the violation; reinstatement of the complainant to his or her former position, together with the compensation (including back pay), terms, conditions and privileges of the complainant's employment; payment of compensatory damages, including, at the request of the complainant, the aggregate amount of all costs and expenses (including attorney's and expert witness fees) reasonably incurred. It may also include payment of punitive damages up to $250,000.
If the Assistant Secretary concludes that a violation has not occurred, the Assistant Secretary will notify the parties of that finding.
The findings and the preliminary order will be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all parties of record (and each party's legal counsel if the party is represented by counsel). The findings and, where appropriate, the preliminary order will inform the parties of the right to object to the findings and/or order and to request a hearing, and of the right of the respondent under NTSSA to request attorney's fees not exceeding $1,000 from the administrative law judge ("ALJ") regardless of whether the respondent has filed objections, if the respondent alleges that the complaint was frivolous or brought in bad faith, and will also give the address of the Chief Administrative Law Judge. At the same time, the Assistant Secretary will file with the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Department of Labor, a copy of the original complaint and a copy of the findings and/or order.
The findings and the preliminary order will be effective 30 days after receipt by the respondent (or the respondent's legal counsel if the respondent is represented by counsel) or on the compliance date set forth in the preliminary order, whichever is later, unless an objection and/or a request for a hearing has been timely filed as provided at § 1982.106. However, the portion of any preliminary order requiring reinstatement will be effective immediately upon the respondent's receipt of the findings and preliminary order, regardless of any objections to the findings and/or order.
[75 FR 53531, August 31, 2010]