';


Title 10 Part 708

Title 10 → Chapter III → Part 708

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 10 Part 708

e-CFR data is current as of November 7, 2019

Title 10Chapter III → Part 708


Title 10: Energy


PART 708—DOE CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEE PROTECTION PROGRAM


Contents

Subpart A—General Provisions

§708.1   Scope and purpose.

This part provides procedures for processing complaints by employees of DOE contractors alleging retaliation by their employers for disclosure of information concerning danger to public or worker health or safety, substantial violations of law, or gross mismanagement; for participation in Congressional proceedings; or for refusal to participate in dangerous activities.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.2   Definitions.

(a) For purposes of this part:

Administrative Judge means an attorney appointed by the OHA Director to preside over the disposition of a complaint.

Alternative Dispute Resolution means any technique for resolving disputes and managing conflict without resorting to litigation in either an administrative or judicial forum. Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques include, but are not limited to, mediation, facilitation, shuttle diplomacy, partnering, and dispute systems design.

Complainant means an employee who has filed a complaint under 10 CFR part 708.

Contractor means a seller of goods or services who is a party to a management and operating contract or other type of contract with DOE, or subcontract to such a contract, to perform work directly related to activities at DOE-owned or -leased facilities.

Day means a calendar day.

Discovery means a process used to enable the parties to learn about each other's evidence before a hearing takes place, including oral depositions, written interrogatories, requests for admissions, inspection of property, and requests for production of documents.

DOE Official means any officer or employee of DOE whose duties include program management or the investigation or enforcement of any law, rule, or regulation relating to Government contractors or the subject matter of a contract.

EC Director means the Director of the Office of Employee Concerns at DOE Headquarters, or any official to whom the Director delegates his functions under this part.

Employee means a person employed by a contractor, and any person previously employed by a contractor if that person's complaint alleges that employment was terminated for conduct described in §708.5 of this subpart.

Field element means a DOE operations office or field office that is responsible for the management, coordination, and administration of operations at a DOE facility.

Head of Field Element means the manager or head of a DOE operations office or field office, or any official to whom those individuals delegate their functions under this part.

Management and operating contract means an agreement under which DOE contracts for the operation, maintenance, or support of a Government-owned or -leased research, development, special production, or testing establishment that is wholly or principally devoted to one or more of the programs of DOE.

OHA Director means the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, or any official to whom the Director delegates his functions under this part.

Party means an employee, contractor, or other party named in a proceeding under this part.

Retaliation means an action (including intimidation, threats, restraint, coercion, or similar action) taken by a contractor against an employee with respect to employment (e.g., discharge, demotion, or other negative action with respect to the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment) that would not have been taken but for the employee's disclosure of information, participation in proceedings, or refusal to participate in activities described in §708.5 of this subpart.

(b) Throughout this part, the use of a word or term in the singular includes the plural, and the use of the male gender is gender neutral.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.3   Complaints covered.

This part applies to a complaint of retaliation filed by an employee of a contractor that performs work on behalf of DOE, directly related to activities at a DOE-owned or -leased site, if the complaint stems from a disclosure, participation, or refusal described in §708.5 of this subpart.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.4   Complaints not covered.

An employee of a contractor may not file a complaint against his employer under this part if:

(a) The complaint is based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or other similar basis; or

(b) The complaint involves misconduct that the employee, acting without direction from the employer, deliberately caused, or in which the employee knowingly participated; or

(c) Except as provided in §708.15(a), the complaint is based on the same facts for which the employee has chosen to pursue a remedy available under:

(1) Department of Labor regulations at 29 CFR part 24, “Procedures for the Handling of Discrimination Complaints under Federal Employee Protection Statutes;”

(2) Federal Acquisition Regulations, 48 CFR part 3, “Federal Acquisition Regulation; Whistleblower Protection for Contractor Employees (Ethics);” or

(3) State or other applicable law, including final and binding grievance-arbitration, as described in §708.16 of subpart B; or

(d) The complaint is based on the same facts in which the employee, in the course of a covered disclosure or participation, improperly disclosed Restricted Data, national security information, or any other classified or sensitive information in violation of any Executive Order, statute, or regulation. This part does not override any provision or requirement of any regulation pertaining to Restricted Data, national security information, or any other classified or sensitive information; or

(e) The complaint deals with “terms and conditions of employment” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act, except as provided in §708.5.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.5   Protected conduct.

An employee of a contractor may file a complaint against his employer alleging that he has been subject to retaliation for:

(a) Disclosing to a DOE official, a member of Congress, any other government official who has responsibility for the oversight of the conduct of operations at a DOE site, the employer, or any higher tier contractor, information that he reasonably believes reveals—

(1) A substantial violation of a law, rule, or regulation;

(2) A substantial and specific danger to employees or to public health or safety; or

(3) Fraud, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, or abuse of authority; or

(b) Participating in a Congressional proceeding or an administrative proceeding conducted under this part; or

(c) Subject to §708.7 of this subpart, refusing to participate in an activity, policy, or practice if the employee believed participation would—

(1) Constitute a violation of a Federal health or safety law; or

(2) Cause the employee to have a reasonable fear of serious injury to himself, other employees, or members of the public.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.6   Reasonable fear of serious injury.

Participation in an activity, policy, or practice may cause an employee to have a reasonable fear of serious injury that justifies a refusal to participate if:

(a) A reasonable person, under the circumstances that confronted the employee, would conclude there is a substantial risk of a serious accident, injury, or impairment of health or safety resulting from participation in the activity, policy, or practice; or

(b) An employee, because of the nature of his employment responsibilities, does not have the training or skills needed to participate safely in the activity or practice.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.7   Filing a complaint based on retaliation for refusal to participate.

An employee may file a complaint for retaliation for refusing to participate in an activity, policy, or practice only if:

(a) Before refusing to participate in the activity, policy, or practice, the employee asked the employer to correct the violation or remove the danger, and the employer refused to take such action; and

(b) By the 30th day after the refusal to participate, the employee reported the violation or dangerous activity, policy, or practice to a DOE official, a member of Congress, another government official with responsibility for the oversight of the conduct of operations at the DOE site, his employer, or any higher tier contractor, and stated his reasons for refusing to participate.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.8   Application to pending cases.

The procedures in this part apply in any complaint proceeding filed with the Head of Field Element or EC Director, as appropriate, on or after the effective date of this part.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.9   How to file complaints or other documents.

(a) Under this part, a complaint or other document is considered filed on the date it is mailed, electronically submitted, or personally delivered to the specified official or office.

(b) A complaint may be withdrawn at any time at the request of the complainant.

(c) Absent exceptional circumstances, all submissions to the Office of Hearings and Appeals must be filed electronically in accordance with the instructions set forth on the Office of Hearings and Appeals website, found at https://www.energy.gov/oha/filing-information. The Office of Hearings and Appeals may grant permission to file via mail or facsimile.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.10   Informal resolution of complaints.

(a) DOE encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution. If the parties are willing, they can seek to utilize alternative dispute resolution techniques, such as settlement discussions or mediation, in an attempt to resolve the complaint.

(b) The parties may engage in alternative dispute resolution at any time prior to the issuance of an initial agency decision.

(c) If the parties resolve the complaint informally, the Head of Field Element, EC Director, and the Office of Hearings and Appeals must be given a copy of the settlement agreement or a written statement from the employee that withdraws the complaint.

return arrow Back to Top

Subpart B—Employee Complaint Resolution Process

§708.11   Filing a complaint.

(a) If an employee was employed by a contractor whose contract is overseen by a contracting officer located in DOE Headquarters when the alleged retaliation occurred, the employee must file the written complaint with the EC Director.

(b) If an employee was employed by a contractor at a DOE field facility or site when the alleged retaliation occurred, the employee must file the written complaint with the Head of Field Element at the DOE field element with jurisdiction over the contract.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.12   No expectation of confidentiality.

The identity of an employee who files a complaint under this part appears on the complaint. A copy of the complaint is provided to the employer and the complainant's identity cannot be maintained as confidential.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.13   Requirements for the form and content of a complaint.

A complaint does not need to be in any specific form but must be signed by the employee and contain the following:

(a) A statement specifically describing

(1) The alleged retaliation taken against the employee and

(2) The disclosure, participation, or refusal covered under §708.5 that the employee believes gave rise to the retaliation;

(b) A statement that the complainant is not currently pursuing a remedy under State or other applicable law, as described in §708.16 of this subpart;

(c) A statement that all of the facts that the complainant has included in his complaint are true and correct to the best of his knowledge and belief; and

(d) An affirmation, as described in §708.14 of this subpart, that the complainant has exhausted all applicable grievance or arbitration procedures.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.14   Exhaustion of grievance-arbitration procedures.

(a) To show that all applicable grievance-arbitration procedures have been exhausted, the complainant must:

(1) State that all available opportunities for resolution through an applicable grievance-arbitration procedure have been exhausted, and provide the date on which the grievance-arbitration procedure was terminated and the reasons for termination; or

(2) State that the complainant filed a grievance under applicable grievance-arbitration procedures, but more than 150 days have passed and a final decision on it has not been issued, and provide the date that the grievance was filed; or

(3) State that the employer has established no grievance-arbitration procedures.

(b) If the complainant does not provide the information specified in paragraph (a) of this section, the complaint may be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as provided in §708.18 of this subpart.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.15   Time to file a complaint.

(a) A complaint must be filed by the 90th day after the date the employee knew, or reasonably should have known, of the alleged retaliation.

(b) The period for filing a complaint does not include time spent attempting to resolve the dispute through an internal company grievance-arbitration procedure. The time period for filing stops running on the day the internal grievance is filed and begins to run again on the earlier of:

(1) The day after such dispute resolution efforts end; or

(2) 150 days after the internal grievance was filed if a final decision on the grievance has not been issued.

(c) The period for filing a complaint does not include time spent resolving jurisdictional issues related to a complaint the employee files under State or other applicable law. The time period for filing stops running on the date the complaint under State or other applicable law is filed and begins to run again the day after a final decision on the jurisdictional issues is issued.

(d) If the complaint is not filed during the 90-day period, the Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will give the complainant an opportunity to show any good reason he may have for not filing within that period, and that official may, in his discretion, accept the complaint for processing.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.16   Duplicative actions under State or other law.

(a) An employee may not file a complaint under this part if, with respect to the same facts, he chooses to pursue a remedy under State or other applicable law, including final and binding grievance-arbitration procedures, unless:

(1) The complaint under State or other applicable law is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction;

(2) The complaint was filed under 48 CFR part 3, subpart 3.9 and the Inspector General, after conducting an initial inquiry, determines not to pursue it; or

(3) The employee has exhausted grievance-arbitration procedures pursuant to §708.14, and issues related to alleged retaliation for conduct protected under §708.5 remain.

(b) Pursuing a remedy other than final and binding grievance-arbitration procedures does not prevent an employee from filing a complaint under this part.

(c) An employee is considered to have filed a complaint under State or other applicable law if he files a complaint, or other pleading, with respect to the same facts in a proceeding established or mandated by State or other applicable law, whether such a complaint is filed before, concurrently with, or after a complaint is filed under this part.

(d) If an employee files a complaint under State or other applicable law after filing a complaint under this part, the complaint under this regulation will be dismissed under §708.18(c)(3).

return arrow Back to Top

§708.17   Notification of complaints and opportunities to respond.

(a) By the 15th day after receiving a complaint, the Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will provide the employer a copy of the complaint. The employer has 15 days from receipt of the complaint to submit any response it wishes to make regarding the allegations in the complaint. The Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will provide the complainant with a copy of the employer's response. The complainant has 10 days from receipt of the response to submit any additional comments regarding the complaint or the response. The Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will provide the employer with a copy of those additional comments.

(b) If the complainant is part of a bargaining unit represented for purposes of collective bargaining by a labor organization, the Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will provide the representative a copy of the complaint by the 15th day after receiving it. The labor organization will be advised that it has 10 days from the receipt of the complaint to submit any comments it wishes to make regarding the allegations in the complaint.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.18   Dismissal for lack of jurisdiction or other good cause.

(a) The Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) may dismiss a complaint for lack of jurisdiction or for other good cause after receiving the complaint, either on his own initiative or at the request of a party named in the complaint. Such decisions are generally issued by the 20th day after the receipt of the employer's response, but not before the complainant has submitted comments on the response or his time to do so has elapsed, whichever is soonest.

(b) The Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will notify the complainant by certified mail, return receipt requested, if the complaint is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or other good cause, will give specific reasons for the dismissal and the contact information for the DOE's Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, and will notify other parties of the dismissal.

(c) Dismissal for lack of jurisdiction or other good cause is appropriate if:

(1) The complaint is untimely; or

(2) The facts, as alleged in the complaint, do not present issues for which relief can be granted under this part; or

(3) The complainant filed a complaint under State or other applicable law with respect to the same facts as alleged in a complaint under this part; or

(4) The complaint is frivolous or without merit on its face; or

(5) The issues presented in the complaint have been rendered moot by subsequent events or substantially resolved; or

(6) The employer has made a formal offer to provide the remedy requested in the complaint or a remedy that DOE considers to be equivalent to what could be provided as a remedy under this part.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.19   Appealing the dismissal of a complaint by the Head of Field Element or EC Director for lack of jurisdiction or other good cause.

(a) If a complaint is dismissed by the Head of Field Element or EC Director, the administrative process is terminated unless the complainant appeals the dismissal to the OHA Director by the 10th day after receipt of the notice of dismissal as evidenced by a receipt for delivery of certified mail. Decisions not to dismiss may not be appealed.

(b) If the complainant appeals a dismissal to the OHA Director, he must send copies of his appeal to the Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) and all parties. The appeal must include a copy of the notice of dismissal, and state the reasons the dismissal was erroneous.

(c) The OHA Director has all powers necessary to adjudicate the appeal. The OHA Director will issue a decision on the appeal and notify the parties of the decision by the 30th day after it is received. The OHA Director will review findings of fact for clear error and conclusions of law de novo.

(d) The OHA Director's decision, either upholding the dismissal by the Head of Field Element or EC Director or ordering further processing of the complaint, is the final decision on the appeal, unless a party files a petition for Secretarial review by the 30th day after receiving the appeal decision.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.20   Review by the Secretary of Energy of a decision on appeal of a dismissal.

(a) By the 30th day after receiving a decision on an appeal under §708.19 from the OHA Director, any party may file a petition for Secretarial review of a dismissal with the Office of Hearings and Appeals. A decision by the OHA Director to reverse a dismissal may not be the subject of a petition for Secretarial review.

(b) By the 15th day after filing the petition for Secretarial review, the petitioning party must file a statement setting forth the arguments in support of its position. A copy of the statement must be served on the other parties, who may file a response by the 20th day after receipt of the statement. Any response must also be served on the other parties.

(c) All submissions permitted under this section must be filed with the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

(d) The Secretary (or his designee) will reverse or revise an appeal decision by the OHA Director only under extraordinary circumstances. Upon consideration of the petition for Secretarial review, the Secretary will direct the OHA Director to issue an order either upholding the dismissal by the Head of Field Element or EC Director or ordering further processing of the complaint. If the dismissal is upheld, this is a final agency action.

return arrow Back to Top

Subpart C—Investigation, Hearing, and Decision Process

§708.21   Referral to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

(a) If a complaint is not dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or other good cause, the Head of Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will forward the complaint to the OHA Director by the later of:

(1) The 25th day after receipt of the employer's response, or

(2) The 5th day after receipt of an order to continue processing the complaint following an appeal of dismissal.

(b) The Head of the Field Element or EC Director (as applicable) will notify all parties that the complaint has been referred to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

(c) The OHA Director and an Administrative Judge appointed to preside over any aspect of a part 708 proceeding are prohibited, beginning with the complaint's referral to the OHA and until a final agency decision is issued, from initiating or otherwise engaging in ex parte discussions with any party on the merits of the complaint.

(d) In all proceedings under this subpart:

(1) The parties have the right to be represented by a person of their choosing or to proceed without representation. The parties are responsible for producing witnesses on their behalf, including requesting the issuance of subpoenas, if necessary;

(2) Formal rules of evidence do not apply, but the OHA may use the Federal Rules of Evidence as a guide.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.22   Investigation of complaints.

(a) The OHA Director will appoint a person to conduct an investigation. The investigator may not participate or advise in any proceedings in the case subsequent to the investigation's completion.

(b) The investigator will determine the appropriate scope of investigation based on the circumstances of the complaint. The investigator may enter and inspect places and records; make copies of records; interview persons alleged to have been involved in retaliation and other individuals who may have relevant information; take sworn statements; and require the production of any documents or other evidence.

(c) All parties must cooperate fully with the investigator by making all pertinent evidence available. The contractor must make employees available upon request.

(d) A person being interviewed in an investigation has the right to be represented by a person of his choosing.

(e) Parties to the complaint are not entitled to be present at interviews conducted by an investigator.

(f) If a person other than the complainant requests that his identity be kept confidential, the investigator may grant confidentiality, but must advise such person that confidentiality means that the Office of Hearings and Appeals will not identify the person as a source of information to anyone outside the Office of Hearings and Appeals, except as required by statute or other law, or as determined by the OHA Director to be unavoidable.

(g) At any point during the investigation, the investigator may request that the OHA Director appoint an Administrative Judge to whom the complaint will be referred for a decision on whether dismissal is appropriate. The investigator will serve the parties with notice of the referral. The investigator will submit a written statement to the Administrative Judge outlining the reasons he believes dismissal may be appropriate and any facts supporting that belief. The Administrative Judge will then decide whether to dismiss the complaint. In making such decision, the Administrative Judge will have access to the entire investigative file. The Administrative Judge's decision, regardless of outcome, will be served on all the parties. A complaint may be dismissed prior to the completion of the investigation for:

(1) Any reason listed in §708.18(c), or

(2) Lack of merit, provided the facts obtained by the investigator indicate there is no genuine dispute of material fact.

(h) If the Administrative Judge decides to dismiss the complaint, he will issue an initial agency decision that includes the factual and legal bases for the dismissal. The investigator's written statement will be attached to the Administrative Judge's initial agency decision and served on all the parties. No report of investigation will issue for a complaint dismissed by the Administrative Judge following a referral for dismissal by the investigator.

(i) If the Administrative Judge decides not to dismiss the complaint, he will issue a written statement to that effect which will include the factual and legal basis for his decision. The investigation will then continue. The OHA Director may, at his discretion, appoint a new investigator.

(j) Dismissals under paragraph (h) of this section may be appealed in accordance with the procedures set forth in §§708.32, 708.33, 708.34, and 708.35. Decisions not to dismiss under paragraph (i) of this section may not be appealed.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.23   Time to issue a report of investigation.

(a) If the complaint is not dismissed prior to the completion of the investigation, the investigator will complete the investigation and issue a report of investigation by the 60th day after the complaint is received by the Office of Hearings and Appeals, unless the OHA Director, for good cause, extends the investigation for no more than 30 days. If a case is referred for dismissal by an investigator, the time to issue the report of investigation stops running on the day of referral and, if the Administrative Judge decides against dismissal, begins to run again on the day after the Administrative Judge's decision issues.

(b) The investigator will provide copies of the report of investigation to the parties. The investigation will not be reopened after the report of investigation is issued.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.24   Hearings not required.

(a) A complainant may withdraw a hearing request after the report of investigation is issued. However, the hearing may be canceled only if all parties agree that they do not want a hearing.

(b) If the hearing is canceled, the Administrative Judge will issue an initial agency decision pursuant to §708.31 of this subpart.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.25   Appointment of Administrative Judge.

The OHA Director will appoint an Administrative Judge from the Office of Hearings and Appeals to conduct a hearing.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.26   Time and location of hearings.

(a) The Administrative Judge will schedule a hearing to be held by the 90th day after issuance of the report of investigation. Any extension of the hearing date must be approved by the OHA Director.

(b) The Administrative Judge will schedule the hearing for a location near the site where the alleged retaliation occurred or the complainant's place of employment, or at another location that is appropriate considering the circumstances of a particular case. Hearings may be conducted by video teleconference or other remote means, at the Administrative Judge's discretion.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.27   The Administrative Judge may not require that the parties participate in alternative dispute resolution.

The Administrative Judge may recommend, but may not require, that the parties attempt to resolve the complaint through alternative dispute resolution. Within 5 days of appointment, the Administrative Judge will make the contact information for the DOE's Alternative Dispute Resolution Office available to the parties.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.28   Hearing procedures.

(a) In all hearings under this part:

(1) Testimony of witnesses is given under oath or affirmation, and witnesses must be advised of the applicability of 18 U.S.C. 1001 and 18 U.S.C. 1621, dealing with the criminal penalties associated with false statements and perjury;

(2) Witnesses are subject to cross-examination; and

(3) A court reporter will make a transcript of the hearing.

(b) The Administrative Judge has all powers necessary to regulate the conduct of proceedings, including the following.

(1) The Administrative Judge may order discovery at the request of a party, based on a showing that the requested discovery is designed to produce evidence regarding a matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter of the complaint.

(2) The Administrative Judge may permit parties to obtain discovery by any appropriate method, including deposition upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things; permission to enter upon land or other property for inspection and other purposes; and requests for admission.

(3) The Administrative Judge may issue subpoenas for the appearance of witnesses on behalf of either party, or for the production of specific documents or other physical evidence.

(4) The Administrative Judge may rule on objections to the presentation of evidence; exclude evidence that is immaterial, irrelevant, or unduly repetitious; require the advance submission of documents offered as evidence; dispose of procedural requests; grant extensions of time; determine the format of the hearing; direct that written motions, documents, or briefs be filed with respect to issues raised during the course of the hearing; ask questions of witnesses; direct that documentary evidence be served upon other parties (under protective order if such evidence is deemed confidential); and otherwise regulate the conduct of the hearing.

(5) The Administrative Judge may, at the request of a party or on his own initiative, dismiss a claim, defense, or party. He may also make adverse findings upon the failure of a party or the party's representative to comply with a lawful order of the Administrative Judge, or, without good cause, to attend a hearing. If the Administrative Judge's rulings result in termination of the proceeding prior to the completion of the hearing, the Administrative Judge will issue an initial agency decision pursuant to §708.31 of this subpart.

(6) The Administrative Judge, upon request of a party, may allow the parties a reasonable time to file pre-hearing briefs or written statements with respect to material issues of fact or law. Any pre-hearing submission must be limited to the issues specified and filed within the time prescribed by the Administrative Judge.

(7) The parties are entitled to make closing arguments, but post-hearing submissions are only permitted by direction of the Administrative Judge.

(8) Parties allowed to file written submissions must serve copies upon the other parties within the time prescribed by the Administrative Judge.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.29   Burdens of proof.

The complainant has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that he made a disclosure, participated in a proceeding, or refused to participate, as described under §708.5, and that such act was a contributing factor in one or more alleged acts of retaliation against the complainant by the contractor. Once the complainant has met this burden, the burden shifts to the contractor to prove by clear and convincing evidence that it would have taken the same action without the complainant's disclosure, participation, or refusal.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.30   Timing for issuing an initial agency decision.

The Administrative Judge will issue an initial agency decision on the complaint by the 60th day after the later of:

(a) The date the Administrative Judge approves the parties' agreement not to hold a hearing;

(b) The date the Administrative Judge receives the transcript of the hearing; or

(c) The date the Administrative Judge receives post-hearing submissions permitted under §708.28(b)(7) of this subpart.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.31   Procedure for issuing an initial agency decision.

(a) The Administrative Judge will serve the initial agency decision on all parties.

(b) An initial agency decision issued by the Administrative Judge will contain appropriate findings, conclusions, an order, and the factual basis for each finding, whether or not a hearing has been held on the complaint. In making such findings, the Administrative Judge may rely upon, but is not bound by, the report of investigation.

(c) If the Administrative Judge determines that an act of retaliation has occurred, the initial agency decision will include an order for any form of relief permitted under §708.36. If the Administrative Judge does not determine that an act of retaliation has occurred, the initial agency decision will state that the complaint is denied.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.32   Appealing an initial agency decision.

(a) By the 15th day after receiving an initial agency decision from the Administrative Judge, any party may file a notice of appeal with the OHA Director requesting review of the initial agency decision.

(b) A party who appeals an initial agency decision (the appellant) must serve a copy of the notice of appeal on all other parties.

(c) A party who receives an initial agency decision has not exhausted its administrative remedies until an appeal has been filed with the OHA Director and a decision granting or denying the appeal has been issued.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.33   Procedure for appeals.

(a) By the 15th day after filing a notice of appeal under §708.32, the appellant must file a statement identifying the issues that it wishes the OHA Director to review. A copy of the statement must be served on the other parties, who may file a response by the 20th day after receipt of the statement. Any response must also be served on the other parties.

(b) In considering the appeal, the OHA Director:

(1) Will possess all powers necessary to adjudicate the appeal.

(2) Will review findings of fact for clear error and conclusions of law de novo; and

(3) Will close the record on appeal after receiving the last submission permitted under this section.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.34   Procedure for issuing an appeal decision.

(a) If there is no appeal of an initial agency decision, and the time for filing an appeal has passed, the initial agency decision becomes the final agency decision.

(b) If there is an appeal of an initial agency decision, the OHA Director will issue an appeal decision based on the record of proceedings by the 60th day after the record is closed.

(1) An appeal decision issued by the OHA Director will contain appropriate findings, conclusions, an order, and the factual basis for each finding, whether or not a hearing has been held on the complaint. In making such findings, the OHA Director may rely upon, but is not bound by, the report of investigation and/or the initial agency decision.

(2) If the OHA Director determines that an act of retaliation has occurred, the appeal decision will include an order for any form of relief permitted under §708.36.

(3) If the OHA Director does not determine that the employer has committed an act of retaliation, the appeal decision will deny the complaint.

(4) If the OHA Director determines that the complaint was properly dismissed, the appeal decision will deny the appeal.

(5) If the OHA Director determines that a complaint should not have been dismissed, the appeal decision will vacate the initial agency decision and order further processing of the complaint.

(c) The OHA Director will send an appeal decision to all parties and to the Head of Field Element or EC Director having jurisdiction over the contract under which the complainant was employed when the alleged retaliation occurred.

(d) The appeal decision issued by the OHA Director—other than an appeal decision ordering further processing of a complaint—is the final agency decision unless a party files a petition for Secretarial review by the 30th day after receiving the appeal decision. A decision by the OHA Director to reverse a dismissal may not be the subject of a petition for Secretarial review.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.35   Review by the Secretary of Energy of an appeal decision.

(a) By the 30th day after receiving an appeal decision from the OHA Director, any party may file a petition for Secretarial review with the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

(b) By the 15th day after filing a petition for Secretarial review, the petitioner must file a statement identifying the issues that it wishes the Secretary to consider. A copy of the statement must be served on the other parties, who may file a response by the 20th day after receipt of the statement. Any response must also be served on the other parties.

(c) All submissions permitted under this section must be filed with the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

(d) The Secretary (or his designee) will reverse or revise an appeal decision by the OHA Director only under extraordinary circumstances. In the event the Secretary determines that a revision in the appeal decision is appropriate, the Secretary will direct the OHA Director to issue a revised decision which is the final agency action on the complaint. In the event the Secretary determines to reverse an appeal decision dismissing the complaint, the Secretary may, as appropriate, direct the OHA Director to issue a revised decision ordering further processing of the complaint. If no further processing is ordered, the Secretary's decision is the final agency action on the complaint.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.36   Remedies.

(a) General remedies. If the initial or final agency decision determines that an act of retaliation has occurred, it may order:

(1) Reinstatement;

(2) Transfer preference;

(3) Back pay;

(4) Reimbursement of the complainant's reasonable costs and expenses, including attorney and expert-witness fees reasonably incurred to prepare for and participate in proceedings leading to the initial or final agency decision; or

(5) Such other remedies as are deemed necessary to abate the violation and provide the complainant with relief.

(b) Interim relief. If an initial agency decision contains a determination that an act of retaliation occurred, the decision may order the employer to provide the complainant with appropriate interim relief (including reinstatement) pending the outcome of any request for review of the decision by the OHA Director. Such interim relief will not include payment of any money.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.37   Reimbursement of costs and expenses.

If a complaint is denied by a final agency decision, the complainant will not be reimbursed for the costs and expenses incurred in pursuing the complaint.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.38   Implementation of final agency decision.

(a) The Head of Field Element having jurisdiction over the contract under which the complainant was employed when the alleged retaliation occurred, or EC Director, will implement a final agency decision by forwarding the decision and order to the contractor, or subcontractor, involved.

(b) An employer's failure or refusal to comply with a final agency decision and order under this regulation may result in a contracting officer's decision to disallow certain costs or terminate the contract for default. In the event of a contracting officer's decision to disallow costs or terminate a contract for default, the contractor may file a claim under the disputes procedures of the contract.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.39   The Contract Disputes Act.

A final agency decision and order issued pursuant to this regulation is not considered a claim by the government against a contractor or “a decision by the contracting officer” under sections 6 and 7 of the Contract Disputes Act (41 U.S.C. 605 and 41 U.S.C. 606).

return arrow Back to Top

§708.40   Notice of program requirements.

Employers who are covered by this part must inform their employees about these regulations by posting notices in conspicuous places at the work site. These notices must include the name, address, telephone number, and website or email address of the DOE office where employees can file complaints under this part.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.41   Referral to another agency.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this part, the Secretary of Energy retains the right to request that a complaint filed under this part be accepted by another Federal agency for investigation and factual determinations.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.42   Extension of deadlines.

The Secretary of Energy (or the Secretary's designee) may approve the extension of any deadline established by this part, and the OHA Director may approve the extension of any deadline under §§708.22 through 708.34 of this subpart (relating to the investigation, hearing, and OHA appeal process). Failure by the DOE to comply with timing requirements does not create a substantive right for any party to overturn a DOE decision on a complaint.

return arrow Back to Top

§708.43   Affirmative duty not to retaliate.

DOE contractors will not retaliate against any employee because the employee (or any person acting at the request of the employee) has taken an action listed in §708.5(a) through (c).

return arrow Back to Top