The Business Council opposes this legislation that would mandate the development of a nuclear-power whistleblower access and assistance program. This legislation is unwarranted, outdated and technical flawed.
The Energy Reorganization Act (ERA), 42 U.S.C. § 5851 provides protections for employees who provide information about, or participate in investigations relating to, what they reasonably believe to be violations of nuclear safety laws and standards. The ERA applies to all licensees of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), their subsidiaries, contractors and subcontractors, including companies that are involved in construction, maintenance, operation or cleanup at a nuclear facility.
The ERA prohibits an employer from taking "adverse employment action" against an employee for engaging in protected activity. Such adverse actions include firings, demotions, denial of promotions, reassignment of job duties and responsibilities, assignment of undesirable shifts, harassment and intimidation. The employee need only show that the protected activity was a "contributing factor" in the employer's decision to take adverse action against the employee.
This bill is outdated and was first proposed in 1995, a period of time when the energy industry was in a period of transition, and dial-up internet was just taking hold. The bill would require the development of a nuclear-power whistleblower access and assistance program for State public authorities, but no public authority has controlled a nuclear energy generation facility in almost two decades. Since the legislation was proposed the ERA has resulted in more thorough and established protections for whistleblowers.
We believe the bill is excessively broad, and would pose real compliance issues for business due to overlapping administrative requirements. Moreover, we question its need given existing Federal statute.
For these reasons, the Business Council respectfully opposes approval of this legislation.