Melissa Bailey focuses her practice on occupational safety and health issues, and also serves on the Firm's Board of Directors. She litigates OSHA cases before federal and state agencies and courts, and also represents employers during government inspections and investigations. Her practice also includes providing compliance advice and conducting privileged audits on complex workplace safety issues. Melissa represents employers in a wide range of industries, including electric utilities, chemical manufacturing/refining, retail, food processing, construction, and drug manufacturing. Melissa also regularly represents clients before OSHA in connection with rulemaking and policy formation. She has testified before Congress regarding OSHA issues, and has advocated for management interests with regard to OSHA enforcement and compliance policies.
Melissa has practiced occupational safety and health law for over 15 years and, as a result, she understands the legal issues as well as the practical issues confronting employers. She routinely assesses both the current and future liability that may result from significant OSHA citations, and identifies the most effective approach – whether that is a strategic settlement or litigation – in each case.
Melissa also represents clients in whistleblower matters under a broad range of statutes, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Clean Air Act. Her experience ranges from conducting investigations and developing position statements to litigating whistleblower cases before Administrative Law Judges and in court.
Melissa is an active speaker on OSHA and whistleblower issues. She speaks to trade association members and clients regarding a variety of OSHA issues, including strategies to use during an OSHA inspection to minimize liability, conducting privileged audits and accident investigations, and the impact of OSHA’s regulatory and enforcement agenda on particular industries. Melissa is also the Program Chairperson of the American Bar Association Occupational Safety and Health Committee.
Melissa litigates significant OSHA enforcement matters and also represents many employers during OSHA inspections that followed fatalities or catastrophes. Her experience includes the following:
- OSHA issued two willful citations alleging violations of the construction trenching standards, and also sent out a press release claiming that the employer was "indifferent" to the hazards faced by its employees. After significant discovery and a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge issued a decision vacating one citation and amending the other citation to reflect a serious rather than willful violation. The total penalty was reduced from $140,000 to $7000.
- After a fatal accident, OSHA issued a citation that would have required the company and its industry to abate the alleged hazard by using a completely different type of equipment, which would have cost millions of dollars. Following the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge vacated the citation item.
- OSHA issued significant citations and a press release, and placed the employer at issue into the Severe Violators Enforcement Program ("SVEP"). The company engaged in months of substantive settlement negotiations with OSHA, and OSHA ultimately agreed to amend the citations such that the employer was no longer included in SVEP and abatement obligations were minimized.
- Following an amputation, Maryland Occupational Safety and Health cited a major grain handling/food processing company for violations of OSHA's Grain Handling standard. After a six-day trial, the Administrative Law Judge vacated the citations issued under the Grain Handling standard. The case was one of the first to test a controversial OSHA enforcement policy regarding the use of sweep augers in grain bins.
- OSHA cited a large employer engaged in trimming trees and vegetation around electrical lines for a violation of the Logging standard. The inspection resulted from an employee fatality. The company argued that the standard was inapplicable. After significant discovery, including multiple depositions, OSHA withdrew all citation items.
- Tennessee OSHA cited a chemical manufacturing facility for multiple violations of its Process Safety Management standard after an explosion resulted in an employee fatality. Based on additional facts presented during discovery, the government withdrew all but one of the citations.
- An employee who was terminated alleges that the employer retaliated against him for raising safety complaints under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. Following a two-day trial, the Administrative Law Judge found that the employee was properly terminated.
- OSHA conducted an audit of three years of injury and illness data, including OSHA 300 Logs and associated documents, for a large oil field servicing company. Although OSHA did issue citations, the company was very pro-active throughout the investigation, and as a result, liability was minimized.
- OSHA cited an electric utility for multiple violations following an accident that resulted in two fatalities. After extensive discovery and settlement negotiations, OSHA withdrew most of the citation items and cut the penalty by almost 50 percent.
- After an explosion that resulted in national news coverage, OSHA inspected an employer that provided industrial gases to customers. The company actively asserted its defenses during the inspection, and OSHA did not issue any citations.
Melissa has conducted accident investigations and root cause analyses under attorney-client privilege. She has also assisted clients in conducting complex industrial hygiene investigations, including two corporate-wide assessments of the risks of exposures to lead, cadmium and other health hazards.
District of Columbia
Education and Honors
- Named by Lawyers Weekly USA as one the “Ten Lawyers Who Stood Out” (2002)
- National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center (Board Member, Legal Advisory Board)
- District of Columbia Bar
- American Bar Association (Occupational Safety and Health Subcommittee)
- Kansas Bar Association
- Food Marketing Institute - "OSHA's Enforcement Crackdown: What does it mean for the retail grocery industry?" - Phoenix - March 2013
- International Oil Mill Superintendents Association - "OSHA: The New Risk Factors" - Okoboji - June 2012
- National Grain and Feed Association - "Strategies for Minimizing OSHA Liability" - Indianapolis - June 2012
- Ogletree Deakins Webinar - "Safety Incentives Under Attack - Is Your Plan Vulnerable?" - May 2012
- American Road and Transportation Builders Association - "DC/OSHA Update" - Washington, DC - January 2012
- National Grain and Feed Association - "The New Risk Factor for Grain, Feed and Processing Facility Managers" - San Diego - June 2011
- Edison Electric Institute/American Gas Association - "Employee Free Choice Act – State of Play" - Arlington - June 15, 2010
- Associated General Contractors - "Pandemic Planning: Are you prepared?" - Washington, D.C. - April 16, 2010
- American Bar Association/OSHA Law Subcommittee - "OSHA Update: Shoring the Foundations" - San Diego - March 10, 2010
- South Carolina Society for Human Resource Management - "Preparing for the 2010 Agenda" - Greenville - February 23, 2010
In The News
- February 17, 2015 - - "New OSHA Reporting Rule Enforcement Procedures Raise Employers' Concerns"
- June 13, 2014 - - "Female Powerbrokers Q&A Ogletree Deakins' Melissa Bailey"
- May 9, 2014 - - "How to React When a Union Rep Shows Up with OSHA"
- April 23, 2014 - - "Gender Equality A No-Brainer For Employment Firms"
- March 13, 2014 - - "Employer Attorneys Say OSHA Inspectors Need Better Training on Combustible Dust"
- February 27, 2014 - - "8 Tips For Employers When OSHA Comes Calling"
- October 29, 2013 - - "SeaWorld Appeal Could Force Taming of its Popular Orca Shows After Trainer's Death"
- March 17, 2011 - - "Michaels Defends Use of Press Releases to Spur Employers to Eliminate Hazards"
- January 1, 2011 - - "Labor and Employment Regulation to Watch in 2011"
- November 25, 2010 - - "Landrieu Bill to Reduce Burden on Small Business Could Affect Rules, Analysts Say"
- April 8, 2010 - - "Business Voices Objections to OSHA's Draft Severe Violators Enforcement Program"
- February 4, 2015 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "OSHA’s New Reporting Rules Are in Effect—What Will OSHA Do With the Data?"
- September 23, 2014 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "Electronic Recordkeeping: OSHA Manages to Make a Bad Proposal Even Worse"
- May 28, 2014 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "OSHA and the NLRB Offer Safety Whistleblower Plaintiffs a Second Bite of the Apple by Resurrecting Untimely Whistleblower Claims"
- May 5, 2014 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "How to Be Prepared if a Non-Employee Union Agent Shows Up with OSHA at an Inspection"
- February 1, 2014 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "OSHA Signals an Increased Focus on Hospital Industry"
- June 20, 2013 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "Safety First—What OSHA’s Newest Interpretation Means for Employers of Temporary Workers"
- May 3, 2013 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "Non-Union Employees at Worksite Safety Inspections Contradicts OSHA Regulation and Creates Host of Issues for Employers"
- October 29, 2012 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "Creepy Crawly Bedbugs—What Do They Have to Do with OSHA?"
- July 23, 2012 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "“Regulation by Shaming”—What is the Impact on the Economy? (Part 2)"
- July 18, 2012 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "“Regulation by Shaming”—What is the Impact on the Economy? (Part 1)"