FLORENCE, Ore. – Oregon OSHA has fined the Little Brown Hen Cafe in Florence $17,800 for potentially exposing workers to COVID-19 by allowing indoor dining.
The business remained open knowing it was violating a public health order limiting the capacity for indoor dining to zero in an “extreme risk” county, Oregon OSHA said in a statement.
The fine is twice the minimum penalty for a willful violation. OSHA Administrator Michael Wood used his discretionary authority under state law to impose the $17,800 penalty. “The decision reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect where employers insist on disregarding public health measures,” OSHA said.
“Most employers are choosing to do the right thing, even as they face very real economic hardships,” Wood said. "As for those relatively few employers who are working against our shared project to defeat this disease, we will continue our enforcement work in the interest of accountability.”
The fine was the result of an inspection opened in response to multiple complaints about the Little Brown Hen Cafe. The inspection was carried out despite several people – including one carrying a firearm – who blocked the business’ entrance and threatened compliance officers.
Because of safety concerns, two compliance officers were assigned to open the inspection of this business. When they arrived at the restaurant Jan. 4, they were met by several people standing outside the entrance of the business, one of whom carried a firearm.
The compliance officers identified themselves and asked to speak with the business owner. They were threatened and told to leave. The officers politely left, OSHA said, and as the officers walked to their cars the people outside the entrance followed them. The people shouted at the officers as the officers left the parking lot.
The inspection of the Little Brown Hen Café found the employer committing the violation beginning on or about Dec. 26, 2020, and continuing to do so afterward. The inspection included visual confirmation of indoor dining and a Jan. 5 phone interview with owner Stacey Brown, who said she understood the public health rules regarding the spread of the disease in Lane County.
Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.