Nuclear Whistleblowers FAQ

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Q: What federal laws protect nuclear whistleblowers?

Whistleblowers in the nuclear power and nuclear weapons industries are specifically protected under section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act.

Q: Who is protected?

Private sector employees and federal employees working for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Department of Energy.

Q: Who can file a complaint?

Any employee who believes he or she has been discriminated against in retaliation for "blowing the whistle" on a nuclear safety problem.

Q: What is illegal discrimination?

Almost any adverse change to the whistleblower's terms and conditions of employment is prohibited. This includes a wide range of actions from reprimands to terminations and blacklisting.

Q: Where should complaints be filed?

These laws are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Complaints must be filed in writing and should be filed with the local OSHA Office of the DOL and/or mailed to: U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Assistant Secretary Occupational Safety and Health Administration - Room: S2315 200 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20210 (202) 693-2000

Q: What is the statute of limitations?

A nuclear industry employee filing a complaint under the Energy Reorganization Act must file within 180 days.

Q: Do other laws protect whistleblowers?

Many states have enacted laws to protect whistleblowers. Most of these laws have a longer statute of limitations and other benefits unavailable under federal law. If an employee is reporting fraud by a government contractor, these concerns may be covered under the False Claims Act. To report these concerns, please fill out our confidential Attorney Referral / Report Fraud Now form.

Q: Can I file in federal court?

The Atomic Energy Act was recently amended to permit employees to file claims in federal court if the DOL fails to issue its final decision within one year.

Q: What remedies are available to employees under the Energy Reorganization Act's whistleblower law?

  • Reinstatement
  • Back pay with interest
  • A complete “make whole” remedy (including restoration of seniority/sick leave, etc.)
  • Compensatory damages (for emotional distress and loss of professional reputation)
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs
  • “Affirmative Relief” (such as requiring a letter of apology and formal posting of the decision)
  • Exemplary damages are available under the Safe Drinking Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act.
  • To view a major decision on damages in a nuclear case, see Hobby v. Georgia Power Co.

Q: How can I get help?

If you need additional help or want to contact an attorney, please fill out a confidential intake form. To learn more about NWC’s Legal Assistance Program and how we assist whistleblowers, please visit our Find an Attorney page here. Also, The New Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself is the first-ever consumer's guide to whistleblowing. It contains twenty-five clear and comprehensive rules that fully explain the how to effectively blow the whistle. This book is also available directly from the publisher, or at a public library. It is very important that you review this resource in order to determine what laws may protect you and whether you need to take immediate action to protect your rights.

Please read the FAQ disclaimer.

The material in this FAQ may not reflect the most current legal developments. The content and interpretation of the law addressed herein is subject to revision. We disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this website or in this FAQ. Before acting on any information or material in this web site, we strongly recommend you seek a qualified whistleblower attorney.

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