The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky

DOE still part of VanderBoegh suit

By Joe Walker

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Department of Energy is deemed an employer and should not be dismissed from a complaint alleging the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant landfill manager lost his job in retaliation for his complaints about potential radiation problems at the landfill, the Department of Labor says.

DOL Administrative Law Judge Larry Merck on Monday denied an Energy Department motion for dismissal in the case of Gary VanderBoegh, who made the allegations. DOE lawyers had argued that VanderBoegh didn’t establish an employer-employee relationship.

But Merck ruled that DOE is listed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as an employer, and the question of whether DOE interfered or failed to act with regard to VanderBoegh’s employment is “an issue of fact” to be determined later. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 30.

VanderBoegh filed the complaint in April against DOE and its new cleanup contractor Paducah Remediation Services, plus immediate past contractors Bechtel Jacobs, Dura Tec and WESKEM. VanderBoegh, who worked for WESKEM, claims the defendants denied him the right to bid for the work as a grandfathered employee and ignored his qualifications and experience. He had been plant landfill manager for 14 years.

Among other things, the complaint alleges he lost his job when PRS took over April 24 because he complained about radiation problems at the landfill.

DOE previously said its policy is to maintain safe cleanup and that the PRS contract gives preference to hiring incumbent workers.