| Article published Friday, August 1, 2003|
Ex-Davis-Besse worker contests firing, seeks whistleblower
By TOM HENRY
A Toledoan claims FirstEnergy Corp. illegally
fired him from his job at Davis-Besse because he accused a
supervisor of being hostile.
James M. Spencer, who had worked
at the plant for three years as a chemistry technician, said he was
fired on June 2 because he had asked for an investigation into
remarks that allegedly were made on Dec. 28 when he informed a
supervisor he was leaving three hours earlier than his scheduled
12-hour shift ended because he was ill.
allegedly uttered: "I’m gonna beat your ass!" a lawsuit Mr. Spencer
filed yesterday in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has told
FirstEnergy it will not receive authorization to restart Davis-Besse
until it has proven that its workplace is void of intimidation and
encourages employees to come forward with their concerns.
Spencer’s attorney, Howard Whitcomb III, said his client’s complaint
about the alleged verbal harassment was ignored by the company -
despite FirstEnergy’s promises that it is fostering a conducive
Mr. Whitcomb claims his client is entitled to
whistleblower protection under the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974
and the Ohio Whistleblower’s Act because he was intimidated,
reprimanded, and subsequently fired "in retaliation for his having
reported safety concerns."
A disciplinary letter that was
issued to Mr. Spencer on Jan. 15 suggested his decision to leave
early could have resulted in injury to plant personnel or damage to
plant equipment. But that letter was subsequently removed from his
personnel file on Jan. 28 because Mr. Spencer had followed the same
procedure some other employees had in the past when leaving early,
according to William Rayburn, nuclear chemistry
"We would not fire someone for raising safety
concerns. We would, however, fire someone for falsifying documents,"
Richard Wilkins, FirstEnergy spokesman, said.
claims Mr. Spencer was dismissed because he falsified an annual
qualification record necessary for him to continue his
The allegation was denied in the suit. It claims
Mr. Spencer was wrongfully terminated because a supervisor allegedly
removed the document in question from Mr. Spencer’s desk and
presented it to management without his knowledge.
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