Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA has fined two Black Bear Diner sites – one in Bend and one in Redmond – more than $35,000 for violating standards designed to protect employees from the coronavirus disease. Both sites, under the same ownership, willfully continued to potentially expose workers to the virus, despite a public health order limiting the capacity of indoor dining to zero in an “extreme risk" county.
The citations, totaling $35,600 in fines, resulted from inspections launched in response to multiple complaints about the restaurants at Northeast Third Street in Bend and at West Cedar Avenue in Redmond.
The inspections found each site – operating under the legal name Bucc'N Dulge Inc. – willfully allowing indoor dining beginning on or around Jan. 13, 2021, and continuing through Feb. 11, 2021. During that time, Deschutes County was designated an “extreme risk" for transmission of the disease.
During an interview, the owner of the restaurants, Kathy Degree, said she was aware that indoor dining was not allowed in Deschutes County during that time.
Altogether, the inspections documented a total of four violations of workplace health and safety standards at both restaurants. As a result, the following citations were issued:
- In allowing indoor dining at both Black Bear Diner sites, the owner knowingly chose to disregard capacity limitations imposed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for such establishments in a county that was designated as extreme risk. Each restaurant was cited for a willful violation, carrying a penalty of $17,800, under Oregon OSHA's
temporary rule addressing COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
- The owner failed to establish and maintain a safety committee for the restaurants. Safety committees enable workers to regularly participate in addressing potential on-the-job hazards, including discussing such issues with managers. The other-than-serious violation was cited at each location.
Using his discretionary authority under state law, Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood imposed a $17,800 penalty for each of the willful violations. That is twice the minimum penalty for such a violation. The decision reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect where employers insist on disregarding public health measures.
Such willful behavior puts employees at risk and enables the employer to achieve a competitive advantage over businesses that comply with workplace health and safety standards.
“Most employers continue to follow worker health and safety standards as part of our ongoing work to defeat this disease. And we continue to make progress," Wood said. “Unfortunately, some employers are choosing to defy standards and to put their workers at risk. As a result, we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear where appropriate."
Ongoing refusals to correct violations and come into compliance with workplace health and safety standards can lead to additional higher penalties. Meanwhile, if an Oregon OSHA inspection documents violations while a county is at extreme risk, but the county's risk level drops before the citation is issued, the citation will still be issued. The change in risk levels may affect how the violation needs to be corrected, but not whether it is cited.
Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.
In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers and workers a variety of
consultation, information, and education resources addressing COVID-19.