Employee Concerns in the Nuclear Workplace

General Guidelines

Rob De La Espriella

Background
• Increased NRC Regulatory Focus on Licensee Treatment of Employee Concerns
– One of top 3 NRC issues

• Stakes for Violations are Significant for Licensees and Individuals

Background • FPL has routinely had high numbers of allegations made directly to NRC • NRC places great emphasis on allegations statistic as an indicator of a potential “chilling effect” at nuclear sites .

5 .Legal and Regulatory Standards • Section 211 of Energy Reorganization Act • 10 CFR 50.Deliberate Misconduct – Prohibits Deliberate Acts that Cause a Licensee to Violate NRC Regulations .Employee Protection – Prohibits “Discrimination” against employees who engage in “Protected Activity” • 10 CFR 50.7 .

What is “Discrimination?” • Any action affecting terms and conditions of employment taken in response to an employee’s raising a safety concern .

What is “Discrimination?” • • • • • • • Discharge Disciplinary action Refusal to promote Refusal to hire Denial of training opportunities Negative performance evaluations Assignment of “undesirable tasks” on a consistent basis .

What is “Discrimination?” • A “hostile work environment” that discourages employees from raising safety concerns as opposed to specific acts of discrimination .

What is “Protected Activity?” • Raising a safety concern to: – Employer – NRC – Media .

What are the Consequences of Discrimination? • Investigations by NRC Office of Investigations • Notices of Violation and Civil Penalties Against Licensees and Individuals • Orders Barring Individuals from Nuclear Industry .

What are the Consequences of Discrimination? • Potential Criminal Prosecution for Deliberate Acts of Discrimination • Financial Awards and Reinstatement to Victim of Discrimination • Potential Plant Shutdowns .

Cases • Northeast Utilities – Severity Level II violation and a $88.000 civil penalty for discrimination against two contractor engineers – NRC enforcement action taken despite self identification and reporting – NRC issued an order requiring NU to retain an independent firm to handle employee concerns because of a “hostile work environment” – One of key issues contributing to shutdown of Millstone units .

Cases • South Texas – NRC issued order confirming STP’s process for addressing employee concerns – Alleged discrimination by I & C manager – Hostile work environment – “threats” used as a management tool – Manager forced to resign to avoid enforcement .

Cases • TVA – NRC issued an order against VP-Nuclear for intentional discrimination against a manager – Order barred former VP from industry for 5 years .

Cases • Arizona Public Service – A supervisor at Palo Verde pled guilty to intentional violation of NRC requirements for discriminating against a contractor employee: 1 year probation. a fine and a Severity Level III violation – Utility: Severity Level III violation and $100. community service.000 civil penalty .

Recurring Issues in the Nuclear Workplace • An employee has the same legal protection whether a concern is raised internally or directly with NRC • All safety concerns are protected. including concerns that turn out to be invalid • Employees who engage in protected activity can be disciplined (but not for that activity) .

Recurring Issues in the Nuclear Workplace • An employee cannot be forced to work in an area that he reasonably believes to be unsafe • An employee should not be disciplined for refusing to reveal a safety concern • FPL is responsible for discriminatory actions taken by its contractors .

• Get help from: • • • • • • -Supervisors -HR -Speakout -Managers -QA -Safety Suggestions in Dealing with Employee Concerns • Handle safety issues first and performance issues/discipline later .

Suggestions in Dealing with Employee Concerns • Fitness for duty issues must be handled through FFD Program • Document: – resolution of concerns – performance problems – disciplinary actions .

Suggestions in Dealing with Employee Concerns • Provide feedback to employees • Use FPL’s Speakout Program for difficult concerns .

Conclusion • Handling employee concerns is of significant importance to FPL and NRC and crucial in the success of FPL’s nuclear program j:\msr\hr\psl#security .

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