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Tennessee Valley Authority Must Reinstate Former Employee

Aug. 28, 2019
Former worker raised nuclear safety concerns and later participated in an investigation.

A former Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) worker who was placed on administrative leave and terminated in retaliation for cooperating with OSHA must be reinstated.

The employee raised nuclear safety concerns regarding technical specification surveillances, and participated in an investigation by the TVA’s Office of General Counsel of a chilled work environment.

“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 Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's Atlanta-area regional administrator, in a statement.

An OSHA investigation uncovered that TVA terminated the employee for cooperating, violating Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA).

The agency ruled that the company must pay the worker $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, TVA must 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.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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