What Happens When a Company Doesn’t Pay its OSHA Fines? This Company President Found Out!
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently found a New Jersey construction company in contempt of court for failing to pay $412,000 in OSHA penalties. And if the company doesn’t pay the fines, the company president must.
The case involves Altor Inc., based in Washington Township, New Jersey, and its president Vasilio Saites OSHA had cited Altor for numerous safety violations, including multiple willful violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards. The court previously ordered Altor and Saites to pay the fine after the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) affirmed the violations.
The court’s July 25, 2019, contempt judgment specifies that Saites – the company president and only board member – is liable for the full amount of the penalty if Altor does not pay. If Altor and Saites do not fully pay within 30 days or show the court why they cannot do so, the Secretary of Labor is to propose a daily penalty for the court to assess.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will use all appropriate and available legal tools to ensure that employers are held accountable for their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to help ensure that workplaces are safe and employers who violate the law do not gain an unfair economic advantage over law-abiding competitors,” said Solicitor of Labor Kate S. O’Scannlain.
The court’s ruling is the result of lengthy litigation by the Department’s Office of the Solicitor including multiple hearings before the OSHRC and the court of appeals to affirm Altor’s violations of OSHA’s safety requirements and remedy the company’s longstanding refusal to pay the associated penalties.
In a separate case, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ordered manufacturing company Lloyd Industries and its owner to pay more than $1 million in lost wages and punitive damages to two employers fired in retaliation for participating in a safety investigation.
The law has clearly established that when a corporate officer fails to comply with a court order, the officer may be held in contempt.