You are here

VBH-0025 - In the Matter of Alizabeth Aramowicz Smith

This Initial Agency Decision concerns a whistleblower complaint filed by Alizabeth Aramowicz Smith, a former contractor employee at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As explained below, Smith’s complaint should be denied. This case arises under the Department of Energy’s Contractor Employee Protection Program, 10 C.F.R. Part 708, the “whistleblower” regulations. The whistleblower regulations prohibit a contractor from retaliating against a contractor employee who engages in protected conduct. Protected conduct includes disclosing information that the employee 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. If a contractor retaliates against an employee for making a protected disclosure, the employee can file a complaint. The employee must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that 1) the employee made a protected disclosure; and 2) the disclosure was a contributing factor to an alleged retaliatory act. If the employee makes the required showings, the burden shifts to the contractor to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that it would have taken the same action in the absence of the protected disclosure. If the employee prevails, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) may order employment-related relief such as reinstatement and back pay.