Secretary of Labor v. Avcon -- Fighting OSHA Against Increased Liability

Author: R Stell Date: September 27, 2006

The NFIB Legal Foundation, along with a coalition of like-minded industry groups, filed a brief with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission urging OSHRC not to pile additional liability on the backs of small-business owners. 

In response to issues pending in four cases before the commission, OSHRC invited friend-of-the court briefs on two important issues raised by those cases, whether, contrary to current law: 

  1. Individuals can be held personally liable for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 
  2. OSHRC can authorize successor liability for a repeat violation of the OSH Act. 

For decades, a corporation has been considered separate and distinct from its owners or shareholders. Legitimate corporations provide small-business owners with personal-liability protections that are vital to encouraging entrepreneurship.  

In its brief, the NFIB Legal Foundation argued that:

  1. OSHRC should not change existing law and create personal liability for small-business owners;
  2. Small-business owners only should be held personally liable in very limited circumstances, such as fraud; and
  3. Successor liability should only be imposed when there is a final order against the same employer or its alter ego for a substantially similar violation.

Status: PENDING. Amicus brief filed March 24, 2004.

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