That is the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued Feb. 27 in a case called Gabelli v. SEC. Although the case dealt directly with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it applies to OSHA as well.
The issue, as described in an article by the McDermott Will & Emery law firm, centers on the so-called discovery rule for postponing the running of a statute of limitations when a federal government agency seeks a civil penalty.
“The Court held that the limitations period begins to run once a violation occurs, and is not postponed until the agency discovers or reasonably should have discovered the violation,” the law firm said.
The decision “effectively eliminates what might have remained of the OSH Review Commission’s 1993 Johnson Controls decision, which had endorsed the use of a discovery rule in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping cases.”
The ruling follows one issued by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the so called “Volks” case, which “disapproved of OSHA’s continuing violation theory, under which the limitations period does not begin to run until the violation is corrected.”