August 26, 2019
U.S. Department of Labor Orders Tennessee Valley Authority to Pay Back
Wages to Employee Terminated After Raising Nuclear Safety Concerns
CHATTANOOGA, TN – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to reinstate a former employee who TVA 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 TVA to 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.
“This order underscores the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to protect workers who exercise their right to raise safety concerns without the fear of retaliation,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer, in Atlanta, Georgia.
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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Release Number: 19-1415-ATL (297)
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