An October 21, 2021, decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts ordered UHS of Fuller Inc. and UHS of Delaware Inc. to pay the U.S. Department of Labor $30, 515.63 in attorneys’ fees after failing to comply with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) subpoena for documents.
OSHA issued the subpoena as part of a 2019 workplace violence inspection at an Attleboro, Massachusetts, behavioral health facility the companies operated. Among other things, the subpoena requested video footage of workplace violence incidents involving employees at the facility. After failing to comply, the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor petitioned the court to enforce the subpoena for the requested video.
The court found that the companies’ opposition was not substantially justified and ordered them to comply with the subpoena, and to pay the department’s attorneys’ fees incurred responding to their arguments.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue subpoenas to request necessary documents as part of an OSHA inspection. If a recipient fails to comply, the department may then move to enforce the subpoena in federal district court.
“The court made clear that there can be significant consequences for a recipient that opposes OSHA subpoena compliance without substantial justification,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston in a U.S. Department of Labor press release. “The law makes a clear distinction between good faith arguments and those that lack merit. If a recipient chooses to engage in the latter, the recipient should expect to be held accountable.”
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
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