Cuyahoga Valley Ry. v. United Transp. Union,
474 U.S. 3 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cuyahoga Valley Ry. v. United Transp. Union, 474 U.S. 3 (1985)

Cuyahoga Valley Railway Co. v. United Transportation Union

No. 84-1634

Decided November 4, 1985*

474 U.S. 3




Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act), the Secretary of Labor issued a citation to Cuyahoga Valley Railway Co. for a violation of the Act; the company contested the citation; the Secretary filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (Commission), and the company filed an answer; and the United Transportation Union, which represents the company's employees, intervened. At the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), over the Union's objection, granted the Secretary's motion to vacate the citation on the ground that the Secretary did not have jurisdiction over the relevant safety conditions. Despite the Secretary's objection, the Commission directed review of the ALJ's order and ultimately remanded the case to the ALJ for consideration of the Union's objections. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, because the adversarial process was well advanced at the time the Secretary attempted to withdraw the citation, the Commission, as the adjudicative body, had the authority to review the Secretary's withdrawal of the citation.

Held: The Secretary has unreviewable discretion to withdraw a citation charging an employer with violating the Act. The Court of Appeals' decision is inconsistent with the detailed statutory scheme, which contemplates that the rights created by the Act are to be protected by the Secretary, and that enforcement of the Act is the Secretary's sole responsibility. The Commission's function is to act as a neutral arbiter and to determine whether the Secretary's citations should be enforced. Its authority does not extend to overturning the Secretary's decision not to issue or to withdraw a citation.

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