For whatever the reason, it has been months now and there has been no movement in the situation involving Casey’s Restaurant in Roseburg.
Casey’s, located at 326 NW Garden Valley Blvd., reopened for dine-in service on May 5. On May 14, Oregon OSHA issued the restaurant two fines equaling $13,900 for reopening for dine-in service against Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order. OSHA said the restaurant “willfully” disobeyed the order and in doing so put employees at “serious” risk.
OSHA alleged that Casey’s opened with about nine employees who worked within a few feet of customers without face coverings. Customers were seated in every other booth. OSHA officials also said when they visited the parking lot was full and there were as many as nine customers waiting in line.
OSHA posted a “red-tag notice” at the entrance to the restaurant on May 8, which warned that further use of the facility was prohibited. Casey’s, which is owned by Lance and Laurie Mounts, had 30 calendar days from the date the citation was issued to appeal OSHA’s actions, which it did on June 3.
In the appeal, Casey’s challenged the validity of the fines and denied it violated any laws.
“The reason for this appeal is that the Employer contests the validity of each and every violation and penalty contained in the above-captioned citation. The Employer also denies the assertion that there was any violation of the Oregon Safe Employment Act in this matter,” the appeal states.
Casey’s requested an informal conference “in an attempt to negotiate a possible settlement.”
It’s been more than three months since the appeal was filed and a date for that conference has still not been set.
According to OSHA guidelines: “Appeals are normally scheduled for an informal conference with an Oregon OSHA appeals specialist. During such conferences, the appeals specialist, the compliance officer, and the employer will discuss the issues in question. The appeals specialist has the authority to resolve the appealed citation. An employer who is not satisfied with the outcome of the informal conference may further pursue their appeal before an administrative law judge of the Workers’ Compensation Board.”
Aaron Corvin, a spokesperson for Oregon OSHA, said he checked and “the appeal status remains in process.”
Casey’s is backed by hundreds of supporters in its fight against the citation and fines.
On May 28, the Mounts’ opened a GoFundMe account, seeking $14,000 to help pay legal fees in its fight against the fines. Within a couple of days the account raised more than $8,000, and by mid-June the entire amount had been raised, from nearly 200 donors.
While the Casey’s case has apparently stalled, OSHA announced this week that it had issued citations to two other restaurants that it said violated COVID-19 restrictions.
Café 22 West, a restaurant and fruit stand in Salem, was fined a total of $13,900 for not implementing social distancing measures nor requiring its 18 employees or its customers wear masks, OSHA said.
Howard’s Pharmacy in Lakeview was fined a total of $9,400 also for not implementing physical distancing or ensuring its nine employees or its customers wear face coverings, OSHA said.
“In addressing complaints involving COVID-19 and the workplace, we have started with efforts to engage and educate the employers involved about what they needed to do. In most cases, we have been able to resolve any issues without an actual enforcement visit,” Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA, said in a news release. “But as these two particular cases demonstrate, we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear when employers choose to disregard requirements.
Since March, Oregon OSHA has issued 18 citations to employers for violating requirements connected to COVID-19. Penalties for non-willful violations ranged from $100 to $2,000, while penalties for willful violations ranged from $8,900 to $14,000.
In addition to Casey’s, those cited include several businesses that did not provide adequate spacing of face coverings for workers and customers, several farms that did not providing adequate toilet and handwashing facilities for employees, and a strip club that was open in violation of the governor’s executive order.