[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 93 (Monday, May 17, 2021)]
[Rules and Regulations]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-10354]
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION
29 CFR Part 2204
Rules Implementing the Equal Access to Justice Act
AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
(``OSHRC'') is amending its procedural rules implementing the Equal
Access to Justice Act (``EAJA''). The amendments closely conform with
new model rules from the Administrative Conference of the United
DATES: Effective May 17, 2021.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carter Tellinghuisen, Attorney-
Advisor, Office of the General Counsel, by telephone at (202) 606-5410
ext. 211, by email at email@example.com, or by mail at 1120 20th
Street NW, Ninth Floor, Washington, DC 20036-3457.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: OSHRC published a notice of proposed
rulemaking on March 8, 2021, 86 FR 13251, which announced revisions to
the Commission's rules of procedure implementing EAJA, 29 CFR part
2204, and invited interested persons to submit written comments. OSHRC
received no public comments. Accordingly, the Commission now adopts the
proposed rule as the agency's final rule, with one technical amendment
to correct a typographical error in Sec. 2204.301(c).
I. Revisions to Part 2204
EAJA directs Federal agencies to consult with the Administrative
Conference of the United States (``ACUS'') to develop procedural rules
to implement the provisions of the statute. 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(1). On
August 8, 2019, ACUS published Revised Model Rules for Implementation
of the Equal Access to Justice Act to reflect subsequent amendments to
the law and practice, and to promote greater accuracy and clarity. 84
FR 38934 (August 8, 2019). The Commission is amending its procedural
rules in line with the amendments made by ACUS to the model rules.
ACUS summarized and explained its amendments in the preamble to the
amended model rules and in Administrative Conference Recommendation
2019-4. 84 FR 38934, 38934 (August 8, 2019); 84 FR 38927, 38933 (August
8, 2019). To the extent applicable, the Commission relies upon the
rationale ACUS provided in those documents as the basis for the
amendments to the Commission's rules.
In addition, the Commission has determined that an adjustment for
increases in the cost of living is appropriate in considering an
applicant's request for attorney or agent fees. Accordingly, pursuant
to 5 U.S.C. 504(b)(1)(A), the Commission revises Sec. Sec. 2204.303
and 2204.406(c)(2) to allow an applicant to request, with supporting
documentation, an increase in hourly fees to account for inflation as
measured by the consumer price index in the relevant locality.
II. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews
Executive Orders 12866 and 13132, and the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995: The Review Commission is an independent regulatory agency
and, as such, is not subject to the requirements of E.O. 12866, E.O.
13132, or the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.
Regulatory Flexibility Act: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(a), a
regulatory flexibility analysis is not required because these rules
concern ``interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules
of agency organization, procedure, or practice'' under 5 U.S.C. 553(b).
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995: The Review Commission has
determined that the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.,
does not apply because these rules do not contain any information
collection requirements that require the approval
of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Congressional Review Act: These revisions do not constitute a
``rule,'' as defined by the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C.
804(3)(C), because they involve changes to agency organization,
procedure, or practice that do not substantially affect the rights or
obligations of non-agency parties.
List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 2204
Administrative practice and procedure, Equal access to justice.
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Review Commission
revises 29 CFR part 2204 to read as follows:
PART 2204--IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT IN
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH REVIEW
Subpart A--General Provisions
2204.101 Scope of this part.
Subpart C--EAJA Application
2204.301 Application requirements.
2204.302 Net worth exhibit.
2204.303 Documentation of fees and expenses.
Subpart D--Procedures for Considering Applications
2204.401 Filing and service of documents.
2204.402 Answer to application.
2204.405 Further proceedings.
2204.407 Commission review.
2204.408 Judicial review.
2204.409 Stay of decision concerning award.
2204.411 Payment of award.
Authority: 5 U.S.C. 504.
Subpart A--General Provisions
Sec. 2204.101 Scope of this part.
The Equal Access to Justice Act, 5 U.S.C. 504 (called ``EAJA'' in
this part), provides for the award of attorney or agent fees and other
expenses to eligible individuals and entities who are parties to
certain administrative proceedings (called ``adversary adjudications'')
before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. An
eligible party may receive an award when it prevails over the Secretary
of Labor, unless the Secretary's position in the proceeding was
substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust.
Alternatively, an eligible party, even if not a prevailing party, may
receive an award under 5 U.S.C. 504(a)(4) when it successfully defends
against an excessive demand made by the Secretary.
Sec. 2204.201 Definitions.
For the purposes of this part:
Adversary adjudication means an adjudication under 5 U.S.C. 554 and
29 U.S.C. 659(c) in which the position of the Secretary is represented
by counsel or otherwise, subject to certain exclusions set forth in 5
Agent means any person other than an attorney who represents a
party in a proceeding before the Commission pursuant to Sec. 2200.22
of this chapter.
Commission means the Occupational Safety and Health Review
Demand means the express demand of the Secretary which led to the
adversary adjudication, but does not include a recitation by the
Secretary of the maximum statutory penalty:
(1) In the administrative complaint; or
(2) Elsewhere when accompanied by an express demand for a lesser
Excessive demand means a demand by the Secretary, in an adversary
adjudication arising from the Secretary's action to enforce a party's
compliance with a statutory requirement that is substantially in excess
of the decision of the judge or Commission and is unreasonable when
compared with such decision, under the facts and circumstances of the
Final disposition means the date on which a decision or order
disposing of the merits of the adversary adjudication or any other
complete resolution of the adversary adjudication, such as a settlement
or voluntary dismissal, become final and unappealable, both within the
agency and to the courts.
Judge means the Administrative Law Judge appointed under 29 U.S.C.
661(j) who presided over the adversary adjudication or presides over an
Party means a party, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(3), who is:
(1) An individual whose net worth did not exceed $2,000,000 at the
time the adversary adjudication was initiated; or
(2) Any owner of an unincorporated business, or any partnership,
corporation, association, unit of local government, or organization,
the net worth of which did not exceed $7,000,000 at the time the
adversary adjudication was initiated, and which had not more than 500
employees at the time the adversary adjudication was initiated; except
that an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal
Revenue Code of 1986 exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such
Code, or a cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the
Agricultural Marketing Act, may be a party regardless of the net worth
of such organization or cooperative association. For purposes of 5
U.S.C. 504(a)(4), ``party'' also includes a small entity as defined in
5 U.S.C. 601.
Position of the Secretary means, in addition to the position taken
by the Secretary in the adversary adjudication, the action or failure
to act by the Secretary upon which the adversary adjudication is based,
except that fees and other expenses may not be awarded to a party for
any portion of the adversary adjudication in which the party has
unreasonably protracted the proceedings.
Secretary means the Secretary of Labor.
Subpart C--EAJA Application
Sec. 2204.301 Application requirements.
(a) A party seeking an award under EAJA shall file an application
with the judge that conducted the adversarial adjudication within 30
days after the final disposition of the adversary adjudication.
(b) The application shall identify the applicant and the proceeding
for which an award is sought. The application shall show that the
applicant has prevailed and identify the position of the Secretary that
the applicant alleges was not substantially justified; or, if the
applicant has not prevailed, shall show that the Secretary's demand was
substantially in excess of the decision of the judge or Commission and
was unreasonable when compared with that decision under the facts and
circumstances of that case. The application shall also identify the
Secretary's position(s) in the proceeding that the applicant alleges
was (were) not substantially justified or the Secretary's demand that
is alleged to be excessive and unreasonable. Unless the applicant is an
individual, the application shall also state the number of employees of
the applicant and briefly describe the type and purpose of its
organization or business.
(c) The application shall also show that the applicant meets the
definition of ``party'' in Sec. 2204.201, including adequate
documentation of its net worth, as set forth in Sec. 2204.302.
(d) The application shall state the amount of fees and expenses for
which an award is sought, subject to the requirements and limitations
as set forth
in 5 U.S.C. 504(b)(1)(A), with adequate documentation as set forth in
(e) The application shall be signed by the applicant or an
authorized officer, attorney, or agent of the applicant. It shall also
contain or be accompanied by a written verification under penalty of
perjury that the information provided in the application is true and
Sec. 2204.302 Net worth exhibit.
(a) Each applicant except a qualified tax-exempt organization,
cooperative association, or, in the case of an application for an award
related to an allegedly excessive demand by the Secretary, a small
entity as that term is defined by 5 U.S.C. 601(6), shall provide with
its application a detailed exhibit showing the net worth of the
applicant as required by Sec. 2204.301(c) when the proceeding was
initiated. The exhibit may be in any form convenient to the applicant
that provides full disclosure of the applicant's assets and liabilities
and is sufficient to determine whether the applicant qualifies under
excessive demand as defined in Sec. 2204.201. The judge or Commission
may require an applicant to file additional information to determine
its eligibility for an award.
(b) Ordinarily, the net worth exhibit will be included in the
public record of the proceeding. However, an applicant that objects to
public disclosure of information in any portion of the exhibit and
believes there are legal grounds for withholding it from disclosure may
request that the documents be filed under seal or otherwise be treated
as confidential, pursuant to Sec. Sec. 2200.8 and 2200.52 of this
Sec. 2204.303 Documentation of fees and expenses.
The application shall be accompanied by adequate documentation of
the fees and other expenses incurred after the initiation of the
adversary adjudication, including, but not limited to, the reasonable
cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, or project. An
application seeking an increase in fees to account for inflation
pursuant to Sec. 2200.406 of this chapter shall also include adequate
documentation of the change in the consumer price index for the
attorney or agent's locality. With respect to a claim for fees and
expenses involving an excessive demand by the Secretary, the
application shall be accompanied by adequate documentation of such fees
and expenses incurred after initiation of the adversary adjudication
for which an award is sought attributable to the portion of the demand
alleged to be excessive and unreasonable. A separate itemized statement
shall be submitted for each professional firm or individual whose
services are covered by the application, showing the hours spent in
connection with the proceeding by each individual, a description of the
specific services performed, the rate at which each fee has been
computed, any expenses for which reimbursement is sought, the total
amount claimed, and the total amount paid or payable by the applicant
or by any other person or entity for the services provided. The judge
or Commission may require the applicant to provide vouchers, receipts,
or other substantiation for any fees or expenses claimed.
Subpart D--Procedures for Considering Applications
Sec. 2204.401 Filing and service of documents.
Any application for an award, or any accompanying documentation
related to an application shall be filed and served on all parties to
the proceeding in accordance with Sec. Sec. 2200.7 and 2200.8 of this
chapter, except as provided in Sec. 2204.302(b) for confidential
Sec. 2204.402 Answer to application.
(a) Within 30 days after service of an application, the Secretary
shall file an answer to the application. Unless the Secretary requests
an extension of time for filing or files a statement of intent to
negotiate under paragraph (b) of this section, failure to file an
answer within the 30-day period may be treated as a consent to the
(b) If the Secretary and the applicant believe that the issues in
the fee application can be settled, they may jointly file a statement
of their intent to negotiate a settlement. The filing of this statement
shall extend the time for filing an answer for an additional 30 days,
and further extensions may be granted by the judge upon request.
(c) The answer shall explain in detail any objections to the award
requested and identify the facts relied on in support of the
Secretary's position. If the answer is based on any alleged facts not
already in the record of the proceeding, the Secretary shall include
with the answer either supporting affidavits or a request for further
proceedings under Sec. 2204.405.
Sec. 2204.403 Reply.
Within 15 days after service of an answer, the applicant may file a
reply. If the reply is based on any alleged facts not already in the
record of the proceeding, the applicant shall include with the reply
either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under
Sec. 2204.404 Settlement.
The applicant and the Secretary may agree on a proposed settlement
of the award before final action on the application, either in
connection with a settlement of the underlying adversary adjudication,
or after the adversary adjudication has been concluded, in accordance
with the Commission's standard settlement procedures as set forth in
Sec. 2200.120 of this chapter. If a prevailing party and the Secretary
agree on a proposed settlement of an award before an application has
been filed, the application shall be filed with the proposed
settlement. If a proposed settlement of an underlying proceeding
provides that each side shall bear its own expenses and the settlement
is accepted, no application may be filed.
Sec. 2204.405 Further proceedings.
(a) Ordinarily, the determination of an award will be made on the
basis of the written record. However, on request of either the
applicant or the Secretary, or on his or her own initiative, the judge
presiding over an EAJA proceeding may, if necessary for a full and fair
decision on the application, order the filing of additional written
submissions; hold oral argument; or allow for discovery or hold an
evidentiary hearing, but only as to issues other than whether the
agency's position was substantially justified (such as those involving
the applicant's eligibility or substantiation of fees and expenses).
Any written submissions shall be made, oral argument held, discovery
conducted, and evidentiary hearing held as promptly as possible so as
not to delay a decision on the application for fees. Whether or not the
position of the Secretary was substantially justified shall be
determined on the basis of the administrative record, as a whole, which
is made in the adversary adjudication for which fees and other expenses
(b) A request for further proceedings under this section shall
specifically identify the information sought or the disputed issues and
shall explain why the additional proceedings are necessary to resolve
Sec. 2204.406 Decision.
The preparation and issuance of decision on the fee application
shall be in accordance with Sec. 2200.90 of this chapter.
(a) For an application involving a prevailing party. The decision
shall include written findings and conclusions on the applicant's
eligibility and status as a prevailing party and an explanation of the
reasons for any difference between the amount requested and the amount
awarded. The decision shall also include, if applicable, findings on
whether the Secretary's position was substantially justified, whether
the applicant unduly protracted the proceedings, or whether special
circumstances make an award unjust.
(b) For an application involving an allegedly excessive agency
demand. The decision shall include written findings and conclusions on
the applicant's eligibility and an explanation of the reasons why the
agency's demand was or was not determined to be substantially in excess
of the underlying decision in the matter and whether the Secretary's
demand was or was not unreasonable. That determination shall be based
upon all the facts and circumstances of the case.
(c) Awards. The judge presiding over an EAJA proceeding or the
Commission on review may reduce the amount to be awarded, or deny any
award, to the extent that the party during the course of the
proceedings engaged in conduct which unduly and unreasonably protracted
the final resolution of the matter in controversy.
(1) Awards shall be based on rates customarily charged by persons
engaged in the business of acting as attorneys, agents and expert
witnesses, even if the services were made available without charge or
at a reduced rate to the applicant.
(2) An award for the fee of an attorney or agent under this
paragraph (c) shall not exceed the hourly rate specified in 5 U.S.C.
504(b)(1)(A), except to account for inflation since the last update of
the statute's maximum award upon the request of the applicant as
documented in the application pursuant to Sec. 2204.303. An award to
compensate an expert witness shall not exceed the highest rate at which
the Secretary pays expert witnesses. However, an award may include the
reasonable expenses of the attorney, agent or witness as a separate
item, if the attorney, agent or witness ordinarily charges clients
separately for such expenses.
(3) In determining the reasonableness of the fee sought for an
attorney, agent, or expert witness, the following shall be considered:
(i) If the attorney, agent, or witness is in private practice, his
or her customary fee for similar services, or, if an employee of the
applicant, the fully allocated cost of the services;
(ii) The prevailing rate for similar services in the community in
which the attorney, agent, or witness ordinarily perform services;
(iii) The time actually spent in the representation of the
(iv) The time reasonably spent in light of the difficulty or
complexity of the issues in the proceeding; and
(v) Such other factors as may bear on the value of the services
(4) The reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report,
test, project, or similar matter prepared on behalf of the party may be
awarded, to the extent that the charge for the service does not exceed
the prevailing rate for similar services, and the study or other matter
was necessary for preparation of the applicant's case.
Sec. 2204.407 Commission review.
Either the applicant or the Secretary may seek review of the
judge's decision on the fee application, and the Commission may grant
such a petition for review or direct review of the decision on the
Commission's own initiative. Review by the Commission shall be in
accordance with Sec. Sec. 2200.91 and 2200.92 of this chapter.
Sec. 2204.408 Judicial review.
Judicial review of final decisions on awards may be sought as
provided in 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(2).
Sec. 2204.409 Stay of decision concerning award.
Any proceedings on an application for fees under this part shall be
automatically stayed until the adversary adjudication has become a
Sec. 2204.410 Waiver.
After reasonable notice to the parties, the judge or the Commission
may waive, for good cause shown, any provision contained in this part
as long as the waiver is consistent with the terms and purpose of the
Sec. 2204.411 Payment of award.
An applicant seeking payment of an award shall submit to the
officer designated by the Secretary a copy of the Commission's final
decision granting the award, accompanied by a certification that the
applicant will not seek review of the decision in the United States
Cynthia L. Attwood,
Amanda Wood Laihow,
[FR Doc. 2021-10354 Filed 5-14-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7600-01-P