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Court Holds Poultry Firm in Contempt for Failing to Pay Fines

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Birdsboro Kosher Farms Inc. ignored court orders to pay penalties stemming from citations for violations at its Birdsboro, PA plant.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found poultry processor Birdsboro Kosher Farms Corp. in contempt for failing to pay $162,359 in fines for citations issued by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Two separate health and safety inspections of the firm’s Birdsboro, PA poultry processing plant in 2016 revealed numerous safety hazards, including willful, serious, and repeat violations. Citations were handed down for breaches of federal lockout/tagout, hearing conservation, and personal protective equipment standards.

Birdsboro Kosher Farms contested the citations with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. After a hearing on the citations’ merits, an administrative law judge affirmed the initial citations in a Sept. 23, 2019 decision. The decision became the commission’s final order on Oct. 22, 2019. The company petitioned the US Court of Appeals for review, and the Secretary of Labor filed a cross-application for enforcement.

“OSHA’s safety and health standards protect workers and ensure their jobs don’t expose them to needless risks,” US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in an OSHA release. “Employers who ignore their responsibility to provide a safe work environment or who deny their legal obligations will be held to account by the US Department of Labor.”

Birdsboro Kosher Farms’ petition was denied by the Court of Appeals in December 2020. The court ordered the firm to abate any unabated violations from the citations, submit abatement documentation to OSHA, and pay the remaining penalties. The order was ignored, and the company failed to pay the penalties or provide abatement certification.

On March 18. 2022, Secretary of Labor Walsh filed a petition for judgement of civil contempt. The court granted the petition and ordered Birdsboro to pay the outstanding penalties of $162,369 plus interest and fees or agree to a payment plan, and certify abatement of the violations, all within 20 days. Failure to comply will subject Birdsboro to sanctions the court deems necessary to compel compliance with its judgement.

“The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has reaffirmed that Birdsboro Kosher Farms’ actions violated federal law,” Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said in a statement. “The Department of Labor will continue to use ever resource available to ensure workers are safe on the job, including holding employers accountable when they violate laws intended to protect workers.”

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