478 U.S. 1011 (1986), 85-1403, Kansas Gas And Elec. Co. v. Brock

Docket Nº:No. 85-1403
Citation:478 U.S. 1011, 106 S.Ct. 3311, 92 L.Ed.2d 724
Party Name:KANSAS GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY v. William E. BROCK, Secretary of Labor and James E. Wells, Jr.
Case Date:June 30, 1986
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 1011

478 U.S. 1011 (1986)

106 S.Ct. 3311, 92 L.Ed.2d 724

KANSAS GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY

v.

William E. BROCK, Secretary of Labor and James E. Wells, Jr.

No. 85-1403

United States Supreme Court.

June 30, 1986

OPINION

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice WHITE, with whom Justice BLACKMUN and Justice O'CONNOR join, dissenting.

In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has held that [106 S.Ct. 3312] 42 U.S.C. § 5851(a),1 which protects employees of nuclear facilities against retaliation bye their employers for offering assistance to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in carrying out its responsibilities under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954,2 prohibits an employer from terminating a quality control inspector because the inspector has filed internal safety complaints--that is, complaints directed not to the Commission, but only to the employer itself. 780 F.2d 1505 (1985). The Tenth Circuit concluded that although the statutory language does not unambiguously include such cases, the statute's purpose and its legislative history indicate that its extension to purely internal complaints is appropriate. Id., at 1510-1513. In so holding, the Court of Appeals took note that the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had considered precisely the same statutory language and legislative history and reached the opposite conclusion in Brown & Root, Inc. v. Donovan, 747 F.2d 1029 (1984). The Tenth Circuit specifically rejected the Fifth Circuit's ruling in Brown & Root and instead aligned itself with an earlier ruling of the Ninth Circuit

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that internal complaints are covered. Mackowiak v. University Nuclear Systems, 735 F.2d 1159 (1984).

This direct conflict among the Courts of Appeals should be resolved by this Court. The issue is one of importance to both employees and operators of nuclear installations, and it is an issue that has surfaced either directly or indirectly in at least five appellate decisions in the past four years. See, in addition to the decision below and the cases cited above, the Second Circuit's decision in Consolidated Edison Co. v. Donovan, 673 F.2d 61 (1982), and the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling in Wheeler v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 108 Ill.2d 502, 92 Ill.Dec. 561, 485 N.E.2d...

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