Valerie Butera Quoted in “Workplace Fatality Cases Falling to State Prosecutors”

Business Insurance

Valerie Butera, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Business Insurance, in “Workplace Fatality Cases Falling to State Prosecutors,” by Bill Kenealy. (Read the full version — subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Valerie Butera, Washington-based member in the labor employment group at Epstein Becker & Green P.C., said the slowdown in referrals may be part of a deliberate strategy by OSHA to shift criminal enforcement to the states.

“It seems that OSHA has been relying on the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Act doesn't prevent local prosecutors from prosecuting for manslaughter and negligent homicide under state laws,” Ms. Butera said. “So, it appears that OSHA is redistributing it funds, which are admittedly limited, to other initiatives and relying upon the localities for criminal prosecution.” …

Ms. Butera agreed that proper training is essential, and said the trend of local prosecutors filing criminal cases against employers for workplace fatalities is likely to continue.

“The states are not reluctant to pursue these cases,” she said. “The fact that federal OSHA is not sending over as many cases as it used to is no excuse for companies to let their guard down.”