New DOJ and DOL Reliance on Environmental Laws Lowers Bar for Workplace-Safety Criminal Prosecutions

On April 1st, the Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) published a Legal Backgrounder prepared by Eric J. Conn entitled: “New DOJ and DOL Reliance on Environmental Laws Lowers Bar for Workplace-Safety Criminal Prosecutions.”

The Legal Backgrounder reviewed the history of OSH Act criminal cases and a new Department of Justice and Department of Labor joint initiative designed to increase the frequency of both criminal prosecutions for workplace safety WLF Article Imageviolations generally, and to pursue more criminal charges against individual managers rather than just corporate defendants. The article explains:

“A key change in DOJ’s strategy for ‘upping the ante’ in workplace-safety criminal enforcement is the decision to transfer responsibility for prosecuting worker-safety violations from the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Fraud Section to the Environmental Crimes Section (ECS) of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.”

The article concluded that:

“the new Department of Justice worker-endangerment initiative will result in a renewed and more concerted effort to pursue criminal charges under environmental statutes where workers’ health and safety is allegedly being threatened. Based on this rekindled commitment by DOL and DOJ, employers should expect government officials investigating workplace-safety violations to probe for possible criminal violations—not only under the OSH Act where there has been a fatality, but under the myriad of environmental statutes and Title 18’s federal criminal code.”

Here is a link to the full article.

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