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Contesting Citations

After the issuance of a citation or order under the Mine Act, a mine operator may within 30 days file a notice of contest with the Secretary of Labor at the Solicitor’s Office, or an operator could wait until a civil penalty is assessed. At that point, the operator has 30 days in which to file a contest and request a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. An operator may contest all or some of the penalties listed on the civil penalty assessment by placing a check next to the contested item and stating the reasons for the contest. A copy of the contested assessment must be returned to MSHA's Civil Penalty Compliance Office in Arlington, Virginia within 30 days of the operator's receipt.

Further Details on Contesting

To facilitate the settlement of cases, MSHA, in cooperation with the Office of the Solicitor, developed the Alternative Case Resolution Initiative (ACRI) in 1994. This program created the position of Conference/Litigation Representative (CLR) – typically an experienced mine inspector who is trained to represent the Secretary of Labor in contested cases, under the supervision of the Office of the Solicitor, that do not involve accidents, fatalities, or complex legal issues. Some CLRs are authorized to represent MSHA in administrative hearings before an administrative law judge. Mine operators may also seek an informal health and safety conference at the district level following the issuance of a citation or order, and prior to assessment of a civil penalty.

For more information on contesting citations, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.