Occupational Safety & HealthClass Term:
Spring Term 2020-2021Catalog Number:
2 (2 Contact, 0 Field)Priority:
General Enrollment CourseFull Year Course:
The final grade will be based on a combination of two sets of assessments: (a) a mid-term evaluation and final paper, and (b) short quizzes, presentations, and other exercises. Both the mid-term and the final paper will focus on an actual events case study, with the mid-term evaluation focused on presenting arguments to an OSHA administrator in the early phase of an investigation, and the final paper involving the drafting of a comprehensive dispositive brief in support of the assigned positions from the case study. The less formal evaluation components will provide students with opportunities to develop oral presentation and writing skills throughout the course. Examples of these types of assessments include a short simulation of a client meeting in which the student must provide advice on a specific legal question, and a brief writing exercise requiring the student to draft a letter explaining a company’s response to a mock OSHA complaint.
With the explosion of COVID regulations from federal, state and local regulators, this class will take what was once the niche area of occupational health & safety and teach the administrative law skills needed by a new generation of lawyers as this historically-rooted specialty suddenly impacts the operations of offices, restaurants, manufacturers, and virtually every other type of client any lawyer might represent. The course will briefly review historic dangers posed to workers and move into a study of the modern regulatory state with the creation of OSHA. The course will study several tragic incidents the faculty have personally been involved with and walk students through handling an emergency investigation, managing public relations, filing an initial appeal, conducting a mandatory settlement conference, and litigating on the expedited OSHA timeline. The course will focus on how lawyers interact with experts and clients to quickly conduct a root cause analysis and examine broader legal defenses to OSHA actions such as unanticipated employee misconduct. The course will also examine risks for clients beyond any discrete citation, with discussions about OSHA’s national “one” employer doctrine. Course faculty will leverage the international reach of their Dentons colleagues and other guest speakers to add different perspectives to the material. A particular focus of the course will be issues of racial and financial inequities in some OSHA matters. At least one class will focus on COVID-era class actions filed on behalf of largely minority essential workers