The NRC investigates a variety of possible wrongdoings on the part of its licensees. These wrongdoings include discrimination and retaliation against workers for raising nuclear safety concerns. But the NRC can’t provide “personal remedies,” such as back pay and job reinstatement for these people, sometimes called “whistleblowers.”
Why not? The simple answer is the NRC’s authority in such cases has limits set by Congress.
NRC’s employee protection regulations implement Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1975. This act prohibits NRC licensees, contractors, and applicants from discriminating or retaliating against employees for, among other things, engaging in protected activities that include raising a nuclear safety concern.
The NRC can – and does — investigate alleged discrimination and retaliation against the individual for raising the concern, as well as any impact that concern may have on nuclear safety or security. The Department of Labor (DOL), on the other hand, has the legal authority to grant personal remedies to these individuals if the allegation is substantiated.
So, in a sense, there is a two-track process for these types of allegations. The NRC is one track; DOL is the other.
For more information about the NRC’s allegation process visit our website.Maria E. Schwartz Sr. Project Manager Office of Enforcement