NRC investigates a variety of possible wrongdoings on the part of its
licensees. These wrongdoings include discrimination and retaliation
against workers for raising nuclear safety concerns. But the NRC can’t
provide “personal remedies,” such as back pay and job reinstatement for
these people, sometimes called “whistleblowers.”
Why not? The simple answer is the NRC’s authority in such cases has limits set by Congress.
employee protection regulations implement Section 211 of the Energy
Reorganization Act of 1975. This act prohibits NRC licensees,
contractors, and applicants from discriminating or retaliating against
employees for, among other things, engaging in protected activities that
include raising a nuclear safety concern.
NRC can – and does -- investigate alleged discrimination and
retaliation against the individual for raising the concern, as well as
any impact that concern may have on nuclear safety or security. The
Department of Labor (DOL), on the other hand, has the legal authority to
grant personal remedies to these individuals if the allegation is
So, in a sense, there is a two-track process for these types of allegations. The NRC is one track; DOL is the other.
For more information about the NRC’s allegation process visit our website.
Maria E. Schwartz
Sr. Project Manager
Office of Enforcement