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American Textile Mfrs. Inst., Inc. v. Donovan

Citation: 11 ELR 20736
No. Nos. 79-1429, -1583, 452 U.S. 490/(U.S., 06/17/1981)

The Supreme Court rules that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) does not require an analysis of the costs and benefits of health and safety standards promulgated pursuant to § 6(b)(5) and upholds the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) cotton dust standard. A cost-benefit analysis is not required because § 6(b)(5), on its face, requires a standard that protects employee health "to the extent feasible." If Congress had intended to require a cost-benefit analysis, it would have clearly so indicated, as it has with other statutes. Taken alone, § 3(8), which defines the term "standard," may imply a general cost-benefit analysis requirement, but not with respect to a § 6(b)(5) standard. Such a requirement would nullify the feasibility requirement. The legislative history of the OSH Act clearly indicates that Congress specifically intended to adopt a feasibility rather than a cost-benefit standard in § 6(b)(5), and deemed the costs of the resultant health standards justified in light of their benefits. The Court next finds that the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals neither misapprehended nor grossly misapplied the substantial evidence test in approving OSHA's finding that the cotton dust standard was economically feasible. However, the Court rules that OSHA failed to make a determination supported by substantial evidence that its requirement of wage guarantees for job transferees was related to the achievement of a safe and healthful work environment.

Justice Stewart dissents, finding that OSHA failed to justify the feasibility of the standard on the basis of substantial evidence. Justice Rehnquist joined by Chief Justice Burger dissent on the ground that § 6(b)(5) amounts to an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

Counsel for Petitioners
Robert H. Bork, Gregory B. Tobin
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, Stewart & Edwards
1200 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 887-0855

Neil J. King, A. Stephen Hut Jr., Andrew N. Vollmer, William Pickering
Wilmer & Pickering
1666 K St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 872-6000

Counsel for Respondents
Kenneth S. Geller, Deputy Solicitor General; Wade H. McCree Jr., Solicitor General; Barry Sullivan, Ass't to the Solicitor General
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4037

Carin A. Clauss, Solicitor; Benjamin W. Mintz, Associate Solititor
Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC 20210
(202) 523-7675

George H. Cohen, Elliott Bredhoff, Robert M. Weinberg, Jeremiah A. Collins,
Bredhoff, Gottesman, Cohen, Chanin, Weinberg & Petramalo
1000 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20530
(202) 833-9340

Arthur M. Goldberg, General Counsel
Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union
15 Union Sq., New York NY 10003
(212) 242-0700

J. Albert Woll, General Counsel; Laurence S. Gold
AFL-CIO
815 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 737-1717

JUSTICE POWELL took no part in the decision of these cases.