Review Commission Seeks Friend of the Court Briefs on Novel Legal Issues

Contact: Linda Gravely
(202) 606-5398

Release 04-1
January 14, 2004



Can the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission hold individuals personally liable for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, and thus “pierce the veil of a corporation?” This is one of several novel legal issues on which the agency seeks amici curiae, or friend of the court, briefs by February 23, 2004.

The independent Review Commission also seeks amici views on whether it has the authority under the OSH Act to authorize successor or alter ego liability for a repeat violation. In addition, opinions are sought on whether policies are embodied in the OSH Act that would be served or frustrated by piercing the corporate veil or by extending the agency’s remedial orders to successors or alter egos of a previously cited employer. Details on all of the topics the agency would like amici to address may be found, if you are reading this on our website, by double clicking anywhere in the rolling banner on the website's homepage. You may also obtain copies of the notice from the agency’s Executive Secretary’s Office.

These are among the issues in four cases pending before the tribunal. All of the cases began with contested worksite inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the separate, U.S. Labor Department agency. All of the cases have been heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) of the Review Commission and the ALJ decisions in each are pending review before the three, presidentially-appointed Commission members.

One of the cases is Altor, Inc., and/or Avcon, Inc., and/or Vasilios Saites, individually, and d/b/a Altor, Inc., and/or Avcon, Inc. and Nicholas Saites, individually and d/b/a Altor, Inc., and/or Avcon, Inc. The employer of record, Altor, Inc., was engaged in poured-in-place, reinforced concrete construction at a sixteen story residential apartment building in Edgewater, New Jersey. Among the several willful charges in this case is one alleging that workers failed to wear protective helmets in areas where there was a possible danger from impact, falling or flying objects, or electrical shock and burns. The ALJ rejected the Secretary of Labor’s argument that he should pierce the corporate veil of Altor, Inc. and Avcon, Inc. and hold the cited individuals personally liable for violations of the OSH Act. The ALJ assessed $196,000 in penalties in this matter.

Two cases are consolidated in Avcon, Inc.; Vasilios Saites and Nicholas Saites., which arose from a Hackensack, New Jersey site where an eighteen story apartment building was under construction on Prospect Avenue. The cited company was engaged in poured-in-place, reinforced concrete construction. Included among the several citations against this company was a charge that it exposed workers to the hazard of falling six or more feet. In this case, the ALJ pierced the veil of Avcon, Inc. and held Vasilios and Nicholas Saites personally liable for OSH Act violations. Penalties assessed by the ALJ here totaled $96,300.

The fourth case, Sharon and Walter Construction Corporation Inc., involves a general contracting business which performed roofing, siding, carpentry, masonry, snow plowing and painting. The workplace here was a building on Clark Street in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. The company received a willful and a repeat citation after an employee fell off the building. Here, the ALJ affirmed one citation as repeat based on his finding that the cited corporation was both the successor and alter ego of a related employer that previously violated the OSH Act. The ALJ assessed $10,750 in penalties.

Supplemental briefs from Amici Curiae must be filed with the Review Commission’s Executive Secretary by February 23, 2004 at the address at the top of this release. The Review Commission’s Rules of Procedure are available on it’s website,, and by calling its Executive Secretary’s Office.