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LWZ-0023 - In the Matter of Universities Research Association, Inc.

Universities Research Association, Inc. (URA) is the management and operating contractor for the Department of Energy's (the DOE) Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory (the Laboratory) in Waxahachie, Texas. On February 4, 1993, Dr. Naresh C. Mehta, a former physicist at the Laboratory, filed complaint SSC-93-0001 against URA under 10 C.F.R. Part 708 (the "Whistleblower Regulations"). In his complaint, Mehta alleged that URA had terminated his employment because he had charged URA officials with mismanaging the Laboratory's hypercube computer. 1/

The DOE referred Mehta's complaint to its Office of Contractor Employee Protection (OCEP). After an extensive investigation, OCEP issued a Proposed Disposition on October 15, 1993. In the Proposed Disposition, OCEP found that Mehta had made a good faith disclosure of his concerns about mismanagement of the hypercube. Furthermore, OCEP found that URA had not shown a legitimate business reason for terminating Mehta's employment. OCEP concluded that URA's actions against Mehta were retaliatory and prohibited under the Whistleblower Regulations. Accordingly, OCEP ordered URA to reinstate Mehta, grant him back pay and benefits, pay his legal fees and costs, and expunge information relating to the termination from his personnel record.

URA filed a request for a hearing on the merits of the complaint under § 708.9 of the Whistleblower Regulations. The DOE's Office of Hearings and Appeals scheduled the hearing for January 5, 1994. URA filed the present Motion to Dismiss on December 9, 1993. The grounds of URA's Motion to Dismiss are (1) the Whistleblower Regulations were not in effect for the Laboratory when URA committed the alleged acts of reprisal; and (2) Mehta's complaint was not timely filed. For reasons discussed below, we reject both grounds and will deny the motion.