United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
action arises from a false report signed by plaintiffs while
working as contractors for Williams Plant Services, LLC, at
the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant operated by Tennessee Valley
Authority (TVA). Plaintiffs take issue with TVA's
decision to revoke their security clearances at TVA's
nuclear facilities based on their participation in preparing
the false report. Plaintiffs contend that Williams terminated
their employment solely because TVA revoked their security
clearances and that TVA's decision tortiously interfered
with their continued employment with Williams.
the court is TVA's motion to dismiss the Complaint on the
grounds that (1) plaintiffs' claims are barred by the
one-year statute of limitations found in Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 28-3-104, and (2) applicable federal law precludes
judicial review of executive agency decisions concerning
security clearances. For the following reasons,
defendants' motion is granted and this action dismissed.
contracted with TVA to provide laborers to work at the Watts
Bar Nuclear Plant. TVA operates Watts Bar as agent for the
United States. Plaintiffs were full-time employees of
Williams assigned to work at Watts Bar during the period
April 27, 2015 through August 27, 2015. As a condition of
their continued employment at Watts Bar, plaintiffs were
required to maintain a security clearance issued by TVA.
Plaintiffs' primary duty was “standing fire
watches.” Laborers performing fire watches were
required to sign a “Continuous Fire Watch Turnover
Form” at the beginning and end of each shift indicating
they conducted a continuous compensatory fire watch requiring
an individual to be in the specified area at all times.
April 27, 2015, plaintiffs were assigned the “Pipe
Chase” fire watch. Plaintiffs were only allowed to
enter the Pipe Chase at brief intervals due to radiation
exposure, just enough time to walk the length of the Pipe
Chase which took less than a minute every 15 minutes.
pipefitters with a welding assignment were working in the
Corridor, a short walk from the entrance to the Pipe Chase.
Plaintiffs aver they were not informed of the work on the
Corridor or any fire watch established for it, and had they
been informed of the work, they could have stood the Pipe
Chase and the Corridor watch at the same time.
next morning, management instructed plaintiffs to sign a
Turnover Form for the Corridor Watch indicating they
conducted a continuous fire watch “in the specified
area” of the Corridor Watch during the time period of
the Pipe Chase Watch. Plaintiffs expressed reservations about
signing the Turnover Form for the Corridor Watch; however,
they ultimately signed the form.
fourth Williams' employee working that day, Deborah
Settles, refused to sign the Turnover Form, and reported the
matter to TVA management and later to TVA Employee Concerns.
Employee Concerns referred the matter to TVA Office of the
Inspector General (OIG) to investigate. On August 27, 2015,
OIG issued a report finding that Williams' employees, TVA
employees, and others had attempted to violate federal law by
“making or using a false writing or document . . .
knowing the same to contain a materially false, fictitious or
fraudulent statement.” TVA's Director of Nuclear
Safety revoked plaintiffs' security clearances and
permanently restricted plaintiffs from working at TVA Nuclear
Power Group locations.
timely appealed the decision to revoke their security
clearances and on October 16, 2015, plaintiffs were informed
that TVA denied their appeal and that the denial of their
security clearances was upheld. Williams immediately
terminated plaintiffs' employment.
filed their Complaint in state court naming TVA and TVA's
Board of Governors as defendants. The Complaint asserts
claims for common law interference with employment and
statutory interference with employment under Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 47-50-109. TVA removed the action from state court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1442 and 1446.
moves to dismiss plaintiffs' claims for interference with
employment on statute of limitations grounds because the
Complaint was filed more than one year after accrual of the
claims. TVA also argues that the court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims because TVA's
revocation of plaintiffs' security clearances is not