DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Do Not Accept OSHA Citations For Violations More Than Six Months Old

By a vote of 9-0 vote the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cannot impose fines or penalties, after the statute of limitations expires, by arguing that it did not discover the conduct until recently.  Although this case involved the SEC, the results will apply to all federal agencies including OSHA.

Combined with the Volks decision (The Volks Decision: What Does It Mean For Employers?), this latest Supreme Court ruling ends all possibility of OSHA issuing fines and penalties once the five year statute of limitations has expired.

In this case the SEC attempted to use the discovery rule, which applies to private parties. The SEC claimed that the statute of limitations did not begin until the alleged fraud “could have been discovered... in the exercise of reasonable diligence.”  The SEC's arguement was that government agencies should be able to use this rule “to the same extent as private parties.” The Supreme Court rejected this argument noting that the SEC is “not a defrauded victim seeking recompense,” but instead is an agency “bringing an enforcement action for civil penalties.”

In a post on the McDermott Will and Emery blog, they state: "As a result, employers should not accept an OSHA citation alleging violations more than six months old."

Read more about this decision:  Gabelli v. SEC: the Supreme Court’s Statute of Limitations Ruling Puts Pressure on Federal Agencies to Investigate More Aggressively and Sue More Quickly

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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