Construction Company Found in Contempt of Court For Not Paying OSHA Fines

The decision found that New Jersey-based Altor Inc. and its owner were ultimately liable for paying the full penalty amount of $412,000.

A federal appeals court found a New Jersey construction company in contempt of court last month for failing to pay $412,000 in penalties issued by OSHA.

Altor Inc. and its owner, Vasilio Saites, were cited by the agency for “numerous safety violations” that including multiple willful violations of fall protection standards, OSHA said in a statement. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit had previously ordered Altroc and Saites to pay the full fine after the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission affirmed the violations.

The judgement, issued on July 25, states that Saites is liable for the full amount of the penalty if his company does not pay. If either Altor or the owner do not fully pay within 30 days or show the court why they cannot pay, the Secretary of Labor can propose a daily penalty that would add to the fine.

The ruling came after lengthy litigation led by the Labor Department’s office of the solicitor that included multiple hearings to affirm the company’s violations of OSHA’s safety requirements and “remedy the company’s longstanding refusal to pay” penalties.

According to a brief from law firm White and Williams LLP, the court relied on Altor’s bank records to determine that the company could have made “at least relatively modest” payments to OSHA but never attempted to negotiate a reduced sum or payment plan.

“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,” Solicitor of Labor Kate S. O’Scannlain said in a statement.

John Baker of White and Williams wrote that the court’s decision should draw corporate attention because of the way it holds business leaders liable for OSHA violations.

“The Altor case, particularly because it highlights the personal liability of its officers, should encourage businesses to provide a strong and comprehensive response at the early stages of an OSHA investigation to minimize the risks of runaway penalties and personal liability,” Baker wrote.

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