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Donovan v. Coeur d'Alene Tribal Farm

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

November 7, 1984, Argued and Submitted ; January 15, 1985, Decided

No. 84-7031

Opinion

 [*1114]  SNEED, Circuit Judge:

The Secretary of Labor appeals a decision of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission vacating citations and penalties assessed against the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Farm. We reverse the Commission's decision and hold that the Occupational Safety and Health Act applies to the commercial activities carried on by the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Farm.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

The Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe (the Tribe) occupies a 350,000 acre reservation in northern Idaho. Although the Tribe is organized under federal law, it has no formal treaty with the United States Government.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribal Farm (the Farm) is a commercial enterprise wholly owned and operated by the Tribe. The Farm produces grain and lentils exclusively for sale on the open market both within and outside [**2]  Idaho. It employs approximately twenty workers, some of whom are non-Indians. The Farm manager is himself a non-Indian. Apart from its tribal ownership, the Farm is similar in its operation and activities to other farms in the area.

In October, 1978, a compliance officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted a consensual inspection of two grain elevators on the Farm. He issued citations for 21 alleged violations and proposed a $185 fine. The Farm has not disputed the facts on which the citations were based.

 [*1115]  The Farm did, however, challenge OSHA's authority to conduct health and safety inspections and has argued that Congress did not intend the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 651-678 (1982) (the Act), to apply to the Farm. The dispute was referred to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who affirmed the citations and proposed penalty. The Farm petitioned the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (the Commission) for review, which the Commission granted on the issue of the Act's applicability to tribal enterprises. The Commission remanded the case to the ALJ in light of its decision in Navajo Forest Products  [**3]   Industries, 8 O.S.H. Cas. (BNA) 2094, aff'd, 692 F.2d 709 (10th Cir. 1982). The ALJ reaffirmed its decision and the Farm again petitioned for and was granted review on the issue of the Act's applicability to tribal enterprises.

On November 16, 1983, the Commission reversed the ALJ's decision and vacated the citations. From this decision the Secretary of Labor appeals.

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751 F.2d 1113 *; 1985 U.S. App. LEXIS 28608 **; 12 OSHC (BNA) 1169

RAYMOND J. DONOVAN, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Petitioner, v. COEUR d'ALENE TRIBAL FARM, Respondent

Prior History:  [**1]  On Petition for Review of a Decision of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Disposition:  Reversed.

CORE TERMS

Farm, tribal, tribes, non-Indians, self-government, enterprises, treaty, rights, applicability, reservation, sovereignty, intent of congress, right to exclude, sovereign, argues

Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Occupational Safety & Health, Duties & Rights, Labor & Employment Law, Employment Relationships, At Will Employment, Definition of Employers, Governments, Native Americans, Authority & Jurisdiction, Legislation, Interpretation, Property Rights, General Overview, Taxation, OSHA Violations & Penalties, Compliance