« PředchozíPokračovat »
Court made clear in Pacific Gas that state laws supported by nonsafety rationales do not lie within the pre-empted field. They argue that since the state tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is supported by a nonsafety rationalenamely, the State's “substantial interest in protecting its citizens from the kind of abuse of which [petitioner) complain[s],” see Farmer v. Carpenters, 430 U. S. 290, 302 (1977)—petitioner's cause of action must be allowed to go forward.
We think both arguments are somewhat wide of the mark. With respect to respondent's contention, we find no “clear and manifest” intent on the part of Congress, in enacting $ 210, to pre-empt all state tort laws that traditionally have been available to those persons who, like petitioner, allege outrageous conduct at the hands of an employer. Indeed, acceptance of respondent's argument would require us to conclude that Congress has displaced not only state tort law, which is at issue in this case, but also state criminal law, to the extent that such criminal law is applied to retaliatory conduct occurring at the site of a nuclear employer. For example, if an employer were to retaliate against a nuclear whistle-blower by hiring thugs to assault the employee on the job (conduct literally covered by $ 210), respondent's position would imply that the state criminal law prohibiting such conduct is within the pre-empted field. We simply cannot believe that Congress intended that result. Instead, we think the District Court was essentially correct in observing that while $210 obviously bears some relation to the field of nuclear safety, its “paramount” purpose was the protection of employees. See 683 F. Supp., at 1013. Accordingly, we see no basis for respondent's contention that all state-law claims arising from conduct covered by the section are necessarily included in the pre-empted field.
6 In this regard, we note that the enforcement and implementation of $ 210 was entrusted by Congress not to the NRC-the body primarily responsible for nuclear safety regulation-but to the Department of Labor.
Nor, however, can we accept petitioner's position, or the reading of Pacific Gas on which it is based. It is true that the holding in that case was premised, in part, on the conclusion that the California ban on nuclear construction was not motivated by safety concerns. Indeed, the majority of the Court suggested that a “state moratorium on nuclear construction grounded in safety concerns falls squarely within the prohibited field.” 461 U. S., at 213. In other words, the Court defined the pre-empted field, in part, by reference to the motivation behind the state law. This approach to defining the field had some support in the text of the 1959 amendments to the Atomic Energy Act, which provided, among other things, that “[n]othing in this section shall be construed to affect the authority of any State or local agency to regulate activities for purposes other than protection against radiation hazards." 42 U. S. C. $ 2021(k) (1982 ed.) (emphasis added). But the Court did not suggest that a finding of safety motivation was necessary to place a state law within the pre-empted field. On the contrary, it took great pains to make clear that state regulation of matters directly affecting the radiological safety of nuclear-plant construction and operation, “even if enacted out of nonsafety concerns, would nevertheless [infringe upon) the NRC's exclusive authority.” 461 U. S., at 212. Thus, even as the Court suggested that part of the pre-empted field is defined by reference to the purpose of the state law in question, it made clear that another part of the field is defined by the state law's actual effect on nuclear safety.
Because it is clear that the state tort law at issue here is not motivated by safety concerns, the former portion of the field argument is not relevant. The real issue, then, is
? Two Justices thought that since the California statute at issue in Pacific Gas was not motivated by safety concerns, there was no reason for the majority to discuss this portion of the field argument there either. See 461 U. S., at 223-224. Whether the suggestion of the majority in Pacific Gas that legislative purpose is relevant to the definition of the pre-empted
whether petitioner's tort claim is so related to the "radiological safety aspects involved in the ... operation of a nuclear [facility],” see id., at 205, that it falls within the pre-empted field. In addressing this issue, we must bear in mind that not every state law that in some remote way may affect the nuclear safety decisions made by those who build and run nuclear facilities can be said to fall within the pre-empted field. We have no doubt, for instance, that the application of state minimum wage and child labor laws to employees at nuclear facilities would not be pre-empted, even though these laws could be said to affect tangentially some of the resource allocation decisions that might have a bearing on radiological safety. Instead, for a state law to fall within the pre-empted zone, it must have some direct and substantial effect on the decisions made by those who build or operate nuclear facilities concerning radiological safety levels. We recognize that the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress at issue here may have some effect on these decisions, because liability for claims like petitioner's will attach additional consequences to retaliatory conduct by employers. As employers find retaliation more costly, they will be forced to deal with complaints by whistle-blowers by other means, including altering radiological safety policies. Nevertheless, we believe that this effect is neither direct nor substantial enough to place petitioner's claim in the pre-empted field.
This result is strongly suggested by the decision in Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U. S. 238 (1984). The Court there held that a claim for punitive damages in a state tort action arising out of the escape of plutonium from a federally licensed nuclear facility did not fall within the pre-empted field discussed in Pacific Gas. The Court reached this result notwithstanding the “tension between the conclusion
field is part of the holding of that case is not an issue before us today because, as discussed above, even if safety motivation is relevant, petitioner's broad suggestion that safety motivation is necessary to a finding that a particular state law falls within the occupied field lacks merit.
that [radiological] safety regulation is the exclusive concern of the federal law and the conclusion that a State may nevertheless award damages [including punitive damages] based on its own law of liability” governing unsafe working conditions. 464 U. S., at 256. Although the decision in Silkwood was based in substantial part on legislative history suggesting that Congress did not intend to include in the pre-empted field state tort remedies for radiation-based injuries, see id., at 251–256, we think it would be odd, if not irrational, to conclude that Congress intended to include tort actions stemming from retaliation against whistle-blowers in the preempted field but intended not to include tort actions stemming from radiation damage suffered as a result of actual safety violations. Potential liability for the kind of claim at issue in Silkwood will affect radiological safety decisions more directly than will potential liability under the kind of claim petitioner raises, because the tort claim in Silkwood attaches additional consequences to safety violations themselves, rather than to employer conduct that merely arises from allegations of safety violations. Moreover, and related, the prospect of compensatory and punitive damages for radiation-based injuries will undoubtedly affect nuclear employers' primary decisions about radiological safety in the construction and operation of nuclear power facilities far more substantially than will liability under the kind of claim petitioner asserts. It is thus not surprising that we find no evidence of a “clear and manifest” intent on the part of Congress to pre-empt tort claims like petitioner's. Cf. Goodyear Atomic Corp. v. Miller, 486 U. S. 174, 186 (1988) (increased workers' compensation award for injury caused by a safety violation at a Government-owned nuclear facility is “incidental regulatory pressure” that Congress finds acceptable). Accordingly, we conclude that petitioner's claim does not lie within the pre-empted field of nuclear safety.S
8 Respondent relies, see Brief for Respondent 45-49, on decisions construing the pre-emptive effect of the National Labor Relations Act
We now turn to the question whether, as the lower courts concluded, petitioner's claim conflicts with particular aspects of $ 210. On its face, the section does no more than grant a federal administrative remedy to employees in one industry against one type of employer discrimination-retaliation for whistle-blowing. Ordinarily, the mere existence of a federal regulatory or enforcement scheme, even one as detailed as $ 210, does not by itself imply pre-emption of state remedies. The Court has observed: “Undoubtedly, every subject that merits congressional legislation is, by definition, a subject of national concern. That cannot mean, however, that every federal statute ousts all related state law. ... Instead, we must look for special features warranting pre-emption.” Hillsborough County v. Automated Medical Laboratories, Inc., 471 U. S. 707, 719 (1985). Here, the District Court identified three “special features” of $210 that it believed were incompatible with petitioner's claim.
The District Court relied first on $ 210(g), which provides that “Subsection (a) of this section [the prohibition on employer retaliation) shall not apply” where an employee “deliberately causes a violation of any requirement of this Act or of the Atomic Energy Act.” According to the District Court and respondent, this section reflects a congressional desire to preclude all relief, including state remedies, to a whistleblower who deliberately commits a safety violation referred
(NLRA), 29 U. S. C. § 151 et seq., to argue that petitioner's claim falls within the pre-empted field. We regard this reliance as misplaced. To begin with, the NLRA, unlike statutes governing the nuclear-employment field, comprehensively deals with labor-management relations from the inception of organizational activity through the negotiation of a collectivebargaining agreement. Moreover, special factors support the conclusion that pre-emption of state labor relations law is warranted-specifically, Congress' perception that the NLRA was needed because state legislatures and courts were unable to provide an informed and coherent labor policy. See Motor Coach Employees v. Lockridge, 403 U. S. 274, 286 (1971).