Nolte Sheet Metal, Inc., owned in part by Ernie Nolte, fabricates air conditioning ducts.
In 2014, Cal/OSHA inspected the Company’s shop and issued citations for various violations of California Code of Regulations, title 8.
The Company filed an appeal with the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (Appeals Board). In a January 29, 2016 decision, the administrative law judge (ALJ) appointed by the Appeals Board concluded the evidence supported the violations underlying the challenged citations. The ALJ also found the violations underlying four of these citations were properly classified as “serious.”
The Company filed a petition for reconsideration, which was granted. In an October 7, 2016 decision after reconsideration, the Appeals Board upheld the ALJ’s determinations.
The Company then filed a petition for a writ of administrative mandamus. In a September 8, 2017 order, the Fresno County Superior Court denied writ relief.
On appeal from the superior court’s order, the Company advances several arguments. First, the court should have exercised its independent judgment when it reviewed the Appeals Board’s decision. Second, the Company did not freely and voluntarily consent to Cal/OSHA’s inspection. Third, Cal/OSHA lost the original inspection file, which deprived the Company of due process of law. Finally, the violations underlying four of the citations were misclassified as “serious.”
The Court of Appeal affirmed the Order and rejected these arguments in the partially published decision of Nolte Sheet Metal Inc. v Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board.
In Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 335, 346, which involved the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, our Supreme Court held “the Legislature may accord finality to the findings of a statewide agency that are supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole and are made under safeguards equivalent to those provided by the [Agricultural Labor Relations Act] for unfair labor practice proceedings, whether or not the California Constitution provides for that agency’s exercising ‘judicial power.’ ”
These safeguards include “the separation of prosecutorial from adjudicatory functions [citations], notice, written pleadings, evidentiary hearings [citations], and a requirement that orders be accompanied by findings based on the preponderance of the reported evidence [citations].” (Tex-Cal, supra, at p. 345.)
In view of Tex-Cal, the Court of Appeal concluded that the superior court properly applied the substantial evidence standard of review.