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OSHA Appeal Cases Continue Via Telework, Electronic Filing

March 20, 2020, 8:25 PM

The judicial commission that considers challenges to Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations is continuing to work on appeals, despite the disruption the coronavirus pandemic has caused to normal workflow across federal agencies.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission’s Office of Administrative Law Judges is continuing to accept filings and respond to inquiries, though most staff are working from home, Chief Administrative Law Judge Covette Rooney said.

Face-to-face meetings aren’t needed for much of the office’s work, Rooney told Bloomberg Law. Because OSHA cases are nationwide, and the commission’s dozen administrative law judges are based in Atlanta, Denver, and Washington, most meetings are normally conducted via teleconferencing.

The review commission requires attorneys to electronically file documents; however, employers representing themselves can continue to file paper documents.

The administrative law judge assigned to a case will continue to make decisions about scheduling hearings and setting filing dates, Rooney said.

Rooney said she’s confident judges will apply the principles of flexibility and accommodation to reasonable requests for filing or scheduling adjustments because of health concerns.

Rooney added that employers who decide to challenge OSHA citations still must file the contest directly with the agency. In turn, OSHA notifies the commission of the appeal.

For fiscal year 2020, OSHRC anticipates about 2,300 appeals will be docketed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com