The OSHA has released a new fact sheet [pdf] on current legal protections for workers in the nuclear industry who report perceived violations of the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA) or the Atomic Energy Act (AEA).
The fact sheet describes who is covered by the legal protections, what actions are covered, and what constitutes prohibited retaliation or reprisal. Also, it describes the process for filing a complaint with OSHA and the time limit for filing: no more than 180 days “after the alleged retaliatory action (that is, when the employee is notified of the action).”
Despite laws that forbid retaliation against whistleblowers, the practice continues. Getting relief from retaliation and compensation for resulting losses is a long, stressful and costly journey. Moreover, the percentage of whistleblowers who win relief in cases filed with the government has always been low, although it has improved recently. Even after winning a retaliation claim, a worker may experience new reprisals, such as blacklisting from future jobs.
Despite the perils and odds, some people blow the whistle because they cannot bring themselves to be complicit in wrongdoing, especially if it harms others. In a moral and ethical sense, all of these whistleblowers are winners, and all of us are beneficiaries.