The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has found a Jacksonville, Florida-based roofing contractor in contempt of court for failing to pay $2,202,049 in penalties assessed by OSHA for safety and health violations at worksites in Florida.
The Department of Labor filed a petition with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for summary enforcement against Great White Construction Inc., Florida Roofing Experts Inc. and owner Travis Slaughter pursuant to Section 11(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) to enforce 12 final orders of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). Those final orders include multiple egregious, willful and repeat violations for lack of fall protection and other safety and health hazards at worksites in Florida. On October 2, 2017, and June 5, 2018, the court granted the department’s petition, enforcing the final orders of the commission.
On August 28, 2019, the department filed a Petition for Civil Contempt against Great White Construction Inc. and Florida Roofing Experts Inc. and Slaughter, alleging they failed to comply with the court’s October 2017 and June 2018 orders, based on evidence that the companies failed to provide proof of abatement, continued to violate OSHA standards and failed to pay the penalties assessed.
Companies ordered to pay
The court held the companies and Slaughter in civil contempt on January 3, 2020, ordering the companies and Slaughter to pay the outstanding penalties of $2,202,049 plus interest and fees, and requiring them to certify that they had corrected the violations within 10 days of the court’s order. If the companies and Slaughter fail to comply, they face coercive sanctions, including incarceration and other relief the court deems proper.
“This enforcement action demonstrates that OSHA will utilize every resource available to ensure that safety and health standards are followed to protect workers,” said Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain. “Employers that ignore multiple court orders requiring correction of violations and payment of penalties will be held accountable.”
The court’s ruling comes after repeated inspections by OSHA and litigation by the Department’s Office of the Solicitor to address Great White and Florida Roofing’s violations of OSHA’s safety requirements. The court’s remedy addresses the companies’ longstanding refusal to protect workers and pay the associated penalties.