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VBA-0042 - In the Matter of Richard Sena

This Decision considers an Appeal of an Initial Agency Decision (IAD) issued on March 1, 2001, involving a Complaint filed by Richard Sena (Sena or the Complainant) under the Department of Energy (DOE) Contractor Employee Protection Program, 10 C.F.R. Part 708. In this case, Sena made a protected disclosure regarding subcontracator personnel who were using the Internet improperly at the DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories. In his Complaint, Sena maintains that his former employer, Sandia Corporation (Sandia), a contractor that operates Sandia National Laboratories on behalf of the DOE, retaliated against him for making that protected disclosure. The retaliation Sena alleges is constructive discharge by Sandia. In the IAD, the Hearing Officer determined that Sena had made a disclosure that is protected under Part 708, and that Sandia created a hostile work environment, causing Sena to go on temporary sick leave and ultimately to retire from Sandia on disability. The Hearing Officer therefore sustained Sena’s Complaint, and ordered Sandia to pay Sena an amount that would put Sena in the same position as if he had worked for Sandia until retirement age. Richard R. Sena, 28 DOE ¶ 87,009 (2001)(Sena). In a separate phase of this proceeding, the Hearing Officer calculated the appropriate amount of that compensation, plus costs and attorney fees, and ordered Sandia to pay a total of $367,088.69. Of that amount, $342,324.77 was awarded to Sena as compensation. The remainder represents attorney’s fees and other costs. Richard R. Sena, 28 DOE ¶ 87,012 (2001). Sandia filed an appeal of the IAD. 10 C.F.R. § 708.32. As set forth in this decision, I have determined that the IAD should be sustained.