Whistleblower Retaliation


An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise "retaliate" against an employee for participating in a discrimination proceeding, opposing discrimination, or exercising rights under Title VII, the FMLA, ADEA, ADA and Pregnancy Discrimination Act.   Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee because he or she engaged in a protected activity.  A protected activity can be the employee's opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination.  Informing an employer that it is engaging in prohibited discrimination will most likely be considered protected activity.  Additionally, taking part in an employment discrimination proceeding would be considered protected activity. 

It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee because he or she engaged in a protected activity relating to workplace safety or health, asbestos in schools, cargo containers, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, motor vehicle safety, and securities laws. 

Retaliation can be:  • Blacklisting • Demoting • Denying overtime or promotion • Disciplining • Denying benefits • Failing to hire or rehire • Firing or laying off • Intimidation • Making threats • Reassignment to a less desirable position, including one adversely affecting prospects for promotion • Reducing pay or hours • Suspension in the form of a transfer denial, denial of a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, demoted, provided disciplinary action or punished. 

NRC Retliation Claims

Licensees and employers subject to NRC authority are required to establish and maintain safety-conscious environments in which employees feel free to raise safety concerns, both to their management and to the NRC, without fear of retaliation.  On occasion, employees who raise concerns are retaliated against. This retaliation is unacceptable and unlawful. The NRC takes these complaints very seriously because the perception by fellow workers that raising concerns has resulted in retaliation can generate a chilling effect that may discourage other workers from raising concerns. 

Section 211 of the ERA prohibits any employer, including a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensee, license applicant or a contractor or subcontractor of a Commission licensee or applicant, from discriminating against any employee with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because the employee assisted or participated, or is about to assist or participate in any manner in any action to carry out the purposes of either the ERA or the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (AEA), as amended, 42 U.S.C 2011 et sec.  The NRC and DOL have complementary responsibilities in the area of employee protection. DOL has the responsibility under Section 211 of the ERA to investigate employee complaints of discrimination and may, after an investigation or hearing, order a violator to take affirmative action to abate the violation, reinstate the complainant to his or her former position with back pay, and award compensatory damages, including attorney fees. NRC, although without authority to provide a remedy to an employee, has independent authority under· the AEA to take appropriate enforcement action against Commission applicants and licensees and their contractors that violate the AEA or Commission requirements, (Le., 10 CFR 50.7 and similar requirements in other parts of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations) which prohibit discrimination against employees based on their engaging in protected activities. NRC enforcement action may include issuance of a Notice of Violation to the responsible applicant, licensee, contractor, and/or individual; imposition of a civil penalty; issuance of an and removing the responsible individual from licensed activities; and or license denial, suspension, modification or revocation. 

The Arizona Employment Protection Act Retaliation Claims

The Arizona Employment Protection Act ("AEPA") deals with the termination of employment relationships, protection from retaliatory discharge. The AEPA was enacted to protect whistleblowers from retaliation resulting in termination.  The Act prohibits an employer from discharging an employee in retaliation for complaining about an employers violation of an Arizona law. 

Additionally, the Act protects employees from retaliation when they exercise the following rights:

-File a claim for workers’ compensation
-Attempt to vote
-Victim’s leave rights
-Right to be free from the extortion of fees or gratuities as a condition of employment
-Right to be free from coercion to purchase goods or supplies as a condition of employment 

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