Whistleblower and Related Employment Relations Matters
Winston & Strawn attorneys represent licensees and contractors in all aspects of NRC compliance and enforcement matters related to employee protection provisions. For example, we have worked with clients to prepare for NRC enforcement conferences in which the NRC examined U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) records under Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 to determine whether enforcement action under 10 C.F.R. § 50.7 would be taken.
Beyond assisting clients during enforcement proceedings, we regularly advise clients on inspection and compliance issues related to discrimination and employee relations issues. In addition, we have represented clients in DOL and NRC investigations of alleged wrongdoing, including allegations of retaliation against employees who have voiced safety concerns. We have represented clients in connection with grand jury investigations and related aspects of potential criminal liability that may arise from whistleblower claims. We have assisted our clients by conducting internal, on-site investigations into the incidents that have given rise to whistleblower claims; have litigated numerous whistleblower cases in trial and pre-trial proceedings; and have represented clients in the various appellate stages of whistleblower litigation, including appeals to the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Because whistleblower allegations pose a substantial risk of litigation, damage awards, and regulatory enforcement penalties, we have assisted our clients in implementing proactive measures to ward off whistleblower litigation. We have developed numerous policies and training programs concerning, for example, the ability and responsibility of employees to raise safety issues, the expectations of management with regard to employee concerns, and cooperation by employees with internal (company-initiated) and government investigations. Winston also has assisted in developing “employee concerns programs” which provide an avenue outside the employee’s chain of command by which the employee can, confidentially or even anonymously, report concerns about safety.