Dec 23, 2021
Western Growers’ bid to block California COVID-19 rule nixed

A California state appeals court has rejected a challenge by Western Growers to the state’s COVID-19 workplace safety rule, saying the need to protect workers outweighs any burdens the measure places on employers.

Reuters reported the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District in San Francisco on Dec. 21 dismissed a bid to block the November 2020 rule by Western Growers Association and other agriculture groups, who said the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health lacked the authority to adopt it.

The three-judge panel said the agency, known as Cal/OSHA, had provided adequate reasons for requiring employers to implement various safety measures, record and report illnesses and continue to pay workers who have been quarantined.

Reuters also reported:

The trade groups’ lawyers at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton did not immediately respond to a request for comment; neither did Cal/OSHA. The agency last week adopted a revised version of the COVID-19 rule that takes effect Jan. 14, as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S.

The trade groups in their lawsuit claimed the 2020 rule was unnecessary because existing state safety regulations already protected workers from COVID-19.

Cal/OSHA acknowledged those regulations when it adopted the emergency rule, but said they did not sufficiently identify measures employers must take to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

The appeals court on Tuesday agreed, affirming a judge who had denied the trade groups’ bid for a preliminary injunction.

The court said it was required to defer to Cal/OSHA’s determination that a targeted rule would strengthen the agency’s enforcement efforts.


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