WBU-18-0004 - In the Matter of Erik DeBenedictis

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On May 03, 2018, the Office of Hearings and Appeals  (OHA) denied the appeal by Mr. Erik DeBenedictis (Appellant) of   the dismissal of his complaint against National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC (NTESS) under the Department of Energy's (DOE) Contractor Employee Protection Program, 10 C.F.R. Part 708.  In his complaint, the Appellant asserted that NTESS retaliated against him for making a protected disclosure concerning an investigation into a matter the Appellant referred for intra-company investigation in 2010 by sending a memorandum threatening Appellant's termination if he continued to pursue the matter. The Appellant filed his complaint with the Field Element substantially later than the ninetieth day following his receipt of the allegedly retaliatory memorandum. The Appellant asserted that emails he sent to a supervisor and NTESS's ethics office concerning the alleged retaliation constituted an "internal company grievance-arbitration procedure," and therefore tolled the ninety-day period for him to file his complaint. The Field Element determined that the Appellant's emails were not indicative of an "internal company grievance-arbitration procedure," and that the Appellant had not shown good reason for failing to timely file his complaint. Therefore, the Field Element dismissed his complaint for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to 10 C.F.R. § 708.17(a). On appeal, OHA agreed with the Field Element, and explained that an "internal company grievance-arbitration procedure" provides for binding arbitration pursuant to a   bargaining agreement. Accordingly, OHA denied the Appellant's appeal. OHA Case No. WBU-18-0004.