On August 4, 2016, the Energy Department announced two new measures to ensure its employees and contractors do not face retaliation for raising concerns with health, safety and management issues:

ACQUISITION LETTER

This letter contains detailed guidance to our personnel responsible for entering into and administering contracts that makes it clear if and when the Department will reimburse legal costs in whistleblower cases. The guidance instructs that a primary consideration for whether one of our contracting companies can be reimbursed in such a case is whether the company in fact retaliated against a whistleblower. Just because a company prevails in their defense does not necessarily mean they will be entitled to reimbursement costs.

NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

The Department is publishing a proposed rule clarifying that the Department can assess civil penalties against contractors and subcontractors for retaliating against any employee who raises concerns relating to nuclear safety. 

Going forward, if a contractor employee calls attention to a radiation hazard that is in violation of a nuclear safety requirement and the contractor retaliates against the employee for raising the issue, the contractor may be subject to a civil penalty for creating the radiation hazard and the contractor may have to compensate the employee for the retaliation. With this new proposed rulemaking, the Department would be empowered to impose an additional civil penalty against the contractor for the retaliation itself.

Download these documents below, and read a blog post from Energy Department General Counsel Steven Croley about these new measures to protect whistleblowers.