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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of September 29, 2014

Title 29Subtitle A → Part 16


Title 29: Labor


PART 16—EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT


Contents

Subpart A—General Provisions

§16.101   Purpose of these rules.
§16.102   Definitions.
§16.103   When the Act applies.
§16.104   Proceedings covered.
§16.105   Eligibility of applicants.
§16.106   Standards for awards.
§16.107   Allowable fees and expenses.
§16.108   Awards against other agencies.

Subpart B—Information Required From Applicants

§16.201   Contents of application.
§16.202   Net worth exhibit.
§16.203   Documentation of fees and expenses.
§16.204   When an application may be filed.

Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

§16.301   Filing and service of documents.
§16.302   Answer to application.
§16.303   Settlement.
§16.304   Further proceedings.
§16.305   Decision.
§16.306   Review by the Secretary.
§16.307   Judicial review.
§16.308   Payment of award.

Authority: Pub. L. 96-481, 94 Stat. 2327 (5 U.S.C. 504).

Source: 46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A—General Provisions

§16.101   Purpose of these rules.

Section 203(a)(1) of the Equal Access to Justice Act amends section 504 of the Administrative Procedure Act to provide for the award of attorney fees and other expenses to eligible individuals and entities who are parties to certain administrative proceedings before the Department of Labor. An eligible party may receive an award when it prevails over an agency, unless the agency's position in the proceeding was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. The rules in this part describe the parties eligible for awards, the proceedings that are covered, how to apply for awards, and the standards under which awards will be granted.

§16.102   Definitions.

As used in this part:

(a) The Act means section 504 of title 5 U.S.C., as amended by section 203(a)(1) of the Equal Access to Justice Act, Public Law No. 96-481.

(b) Adversary adjudication means an adjudication under 5 U.S.C. 554 or other proceeding required by statute to be determined on the record after an opportunity for an agency hearing, but excludes an adjudication for the purpose of establishing or fixing a rate or for the purpose of granting or renewing a license.

(c) Adjudicative officer means the official who presides at the adversary adjudication, without regard to whether the official is designated as an administrative law judge, a hearing officer or examiner, or otherwise.

(d) Department refers to the cognizant departmental component which is participating in the adversary adjudication, (e.g., Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, and Employment Standards Administration).

(e) Proceeding means an adversary adjudication as defined in paragraph (b) of this section.

§16.103   When the Act applies.

The Act applies to any adversary adjudication pending before the Department at any time between October 1, 1981 and September 30, 1984. This includes proceedings begun before October 1, 1981 if final agency action has not been taken before that date, and proceedings pending on September 30, 1984, regardless of when they were initiated or when final agency action occurs, except that it shall not apply in any case pending on October 1, 1981 in which a decision has been issued, but final agency action has not been taken by reason of an abatement.

§16.104   Proceedings covered.

(a) The Act applies in adversary adjudications in which the position of the Department or another agency of the United States is presented by an attorney or other representative who enters an appearance and participates in the proceeding in an adversarial capacity. Any proceeding which prescribes a lawful present or future rate or is primarily rule-making is not covered. Proceedings to grant or renew licenses are also excluded, but proceedings to modify, suspend or revoke licenses are covered if they are otherwise adversary adjudications. The following types of proceedings are deemed to be adversarial adjudications which will be covered by the Act, when all other conditions in the Act and in these rules are met:

(1) Hearings conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission under the authority of 29 U.S.C. 661 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act; and hearings conducted by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission under the authority of 30 U.S.C. 823 of the Mine Safety and Health Act. In these proceedings, the rules of the respective Commissions rather than the instant rules will be applicable.

(2) Wage and Hour Division, Employment Standards Administration:

(i) Civil money penalties under the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act at 29 U.S.C. 216(e) and 29 CFR part 579.

(ii) Violations and debarment in Federal contracts under the Walsh-Healey Act at 41 U.S.C. 39 and 41 CFR 50-203.1.

(iii) Revocation, modification and suspension of licenses under the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act at 7 U.S.C. 2045(b) and 29 CFR 40.101.

(iv) Civil money penalties under the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act at 7 U.S.C. 2048(b)(2) and 29 CFR 40.101.

(v) Revocation and suspension of certificates under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act at 29 U.S.C. 1813(b) and 29 CFR 500.200.

(vi) Civil money penalties under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act at 29 U.S.C. 1853(b) and 29 CFR 500.200.

(3) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Employment Standards Administration hearings prior to the denial, withholding, termination or suspension of a government contract or any portion of a contract under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, at 42 U.S.C. 2000e-17 and 41 CFR part 60-30.

(4) Civil Rights Center:

(i) Fund termination under title VI of the Civil Rights Act at 42 U.S.C. 2000d2 and 29 CFR part 31.

(ii) Fund termination under the Age Discrimination in Federally Assisted Programs Act of 1975 at 42 U.S.C. 6104(a).

(iii) Fund termination or refusal to grant because of discrimination under 20 U.S.C. 1682.

(5) Employment and Training Administration:

(i) Proceedings under the Workforce Investment Act at 29 U.S.C. 2936, where the Department determines that a recipient of WIA funds is failing to comply with the requirements of the Act and the implementing regulations.

(ii) Conformity and compliance under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act at 26 U.S.C. 3303(b) and 3304(c).

(iii) Proceedings under section 303(b) of the Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 503(b).

(6) Mine Safety and Health Administration:

(i) Petitions for modification of a mandatory safety standard under the Mine Safety and Health Act at 30 U.S.C. 811(c) and 30 CFR 44.20.

(7) Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

(i) Exemptions, tolerances and variances under the Occupational Safety and Health Act at 29 U.S.C. 655 and 29 CFR 1905.3.

(b) If a proceeding includes both matters covered by the Act and matters specifically excluded from coverage, any award made will include only fees and expenses related to the covered issues.

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 48 FR 43322, Sept. 23, 1983; 72 FR 37098, July 9, 2007]

§16.105   Eligibility of applicants.

(a) To be eligible for an award of attorney fees and other expenses under the Act, the applicant must be a party, as that term is defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(3), to an adversary adjudication for which it seeks an award; the applicant must prevail; and must meet all the conditions of eligibility set out in this subpart and subpart B.

(b) To be eligible for an award, the applicant must be:

(1) An individual with a net worth of not more than $1 million;

(2) The sole owner of an unincorporated business which has a net worth of not more than $5 million, including both personal and business interests, and not more than 500 employees;

(3) A charitable or other tax exempt organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) with not more than 500 employees;

(4) A cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)) with not more than 500 employees;

(5) Any other partnership, corporation, association or public or private organization with a net worth of not more than $5 million and not more than 500 employees. A unit of state or local government is not a public organization within the meaning of this provision.

(c) For purposes of eligibility, the net worth and number of employees of an applicant shall be determined as of the date the proceeding was initiated.

(d) An applicant who owns an unincorporated business will be considered as an individual rather than a sole owner of an unincorporated business if the issues on which the applicant prevails are related primarily to personal interests rather than to business interests.

(e) The employees of an applicant include all persons who perform services for remuneration for the applicant, under the applicant's direction and control. Part-time employees shall be included.

(f) The net worth and number of employees of the applicant and all of its affiliates shall be aggregated to determine eligibility. Any individual, corporation or other entity that directly or indirectly controls or owns a majority of the voting shares of another business, or controls, in any manner, the election of a majority of that business' board of directors, trustees or other persons exercising similar functions, shall be considered an affiliate for purposes of this part, unless the adjudicative officer determines that such treatment would be unjust and contrary to the purposes of the Act in light of the actual relationship between the affiliated entities. In addition, the adjudicative officer may determine that financial relationships of the applicant other than those described in this paragraph constitute special circumstances that would make an award unjust.

(g) An applicant that participates in a proceeding primarily on behalf of one or more other persons or entities that would be ineligible is not itself eligible for an award.

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 72 FR 37098, July 9, 2007]

§16.106   Standards for awards.

(a) A prevailing applicant may receive an award for fees and expenses incurred in connection with a proceeding, or in a significant and discrete substantive portion of the proceeding, unless the position of the Department as a party over which the applicant has prevailed was substantially justified or if special circumstances make the award sought unjust. No presumption arises that the Department's position was not substantially justified simply because the Department did not prevail.

(b) An award will be reduced or denied if the applicant has unduly or unreasonably protracted the proceeding.

§16.107   Allowable fees and expenses.

(a) The following fees and other expenses are allowable under the Act:

(1) Reasonable expenses of expert witnesses;

(2) Reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, or project necessary for the preparation of the party's case;

(3) Reasonable attorney or agent fees;

(b) Awards will be based on the prevailing market rates for the kind and quality of services furnished not to exceed the rates set forth in paragraph (c) of this section.

(c) No award under these rules for the fee of an attorney or agent may exceed $125.00 per hour. No award to compensate an expert witness may exceed $24.09 per hour.

(d) In determining the reasonableness of the fee sought, the adjudicative officer shall consider the following:

(1) The prevailing rate for similar services in the community in which the attorney, agent or witness ordinarily performs services;

(2) The time actually spent in the representation of the applicant;

(3) The difficulty or complexity of the issues in the proceeding;

(4) Such other factors as may bear on the value of the services performed.

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 72 FR 37098, July 9, 2007]

§16.108   Awards against other agencies.

If an applicant is entitled to an award because it prevails over another agency of the United States that participates in a proceeding before the Department of Labor and the other agency takes a position that is not substantially justified, the award or an appropriate portion of the award shall be made against that agency by the adjudicative officer for the Department of Labor.

Subpart B—Information Required From Applicants

§16.201   Contents of application.

(a) An application for an award of fees and expenses under the Act 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 an agency or agencies in the proceeding that the applicant alleges was not substantially justified. Unless the applicant is an individual, the application shall also state the number of employees of the applicant at the time the proceeding was instituted and describe briefly the type and purpose of its organization or business.

(b) The application shall also include a statement that the applicant's net worth at the time the formal proceedings were instituted did not exceed $1 million (if an individual) or $5 million (for all other applicants, including their affiliates). However, an applicant may omit this statement if:

(1) It attaches a copy of a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service that it qualifies as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) or, in the case of a tax-exempt organization not required to obtain a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on its exempt status, a statement that describes the basis for the applicant's belief that it qualifies under such section; or

(2) It states that it is a cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)).

(c) If the applicant is a partnership, corporation, association, or organization, or a sole owner of an unincorporated business, the application shall certify that it did not have more than 500 employees at the time the formal proceedings were initiated, giving the number of its employees and describing briefly the type and purpose of its organization or business.

(d) The application shall state the amount of fees and expenses for which an award is sought.

(e) The application may also include any other matters that the applicant wishes the adjudicative officer to consider in determining whether and in what amount an award should be made.

(f) The application shall be signed by the applicant with respect to the eligibility of the applicant and by the attorney of the applicant with respect to fees and expenses sought. It shall also contain or be accompanied by a written verification under oath or under penalty of perjury that the information provided in the application is true and correct.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1225-0013)

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 14696, Apr. 6, 1982]

§16.202   Net worth exhibit.

(a) Each applicant except a qualified tax-exempt organization or cooperative association must provide with its application a detailed exhibit showing the net worth of the applicant and any affiliates (as defined in §16.105(f) of this part) as of the date when the proceeding was initiated, i.e. the date the complaint was filed. The exhibit may be in any form convenient to the applicant that provides full disclosure of the applicant's and its affiliates' assets and liabilities and is sufficient to determine whether the applicant qualifies under the standards in this part. The adjudicative officer may require an applicant to file additional information to determine its eligibility for an award.

(b) The net worth exhibit shall be included in the public record of the proceeding in which an award is sought.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1225-0013)

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 14696, Apr. 6, 1982]

§16.203   Documentation of fees and expenses.

(a) The application shall be accompanied by full documentation of the fees and expenses, including the cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, project or similar matter, for which an award is sought.

(b) The document shall include an affidavit from 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.

(1) The affidavit shall itemize in detail the services performed by the date, number of hours per date and the services performed during those hours. In order to establish the hourly rate, the affidavit shall state the hourly rate which is billed and paid by the majority of clients during the relevant time periods.

(2) If no hourly rate is paid by the majority of clients because, for instance, the attorney or agent represents most clients on a contingency basis, the attorney or agent shall provide affidavits from two attorneys or agents with similar experience, who perform similar work, stating the hourly rate which they bill and are paid by the majority of their clients during a comparable time period.

(c) The documentation shall also include a description of any expenses for which reimbursement is sought and a statement of the amounts paid and payable by the applicant or by any other person or entity for the services provided.

(d) The adjudicative officer may require the applicant to provide vouchers, receipts, or other substantiation for any expenses claimed.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1225-0013)

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 14696, Apr. 6, 1982]

§16.204   When an application may be filed.

(a) An application may be filed whenever the applicant has prevailed in the proceeding or in a significant and discrete substantive portion of the proceeding, but in no case later than 30 days after the agency's final disposition of the proceeding.

(b) If review or reconsideration is sought or taken of a decision as to which an applicant believes it has prevailed, matters related to the consideration of an award of fees and expenses shall be stayed pending final disposition of the underlying controversy.

(c) For purposes of this rule final disposition means the later of:

(1) The date on which an initial decision or other recommended disposition of the merits of the proceeding by an adjudicative officer or intermediate review board becomes administratively final;

(2) Issuance of an order disposing of any petitions for reconsideration of this agency's final order in the proceeding; (3) if no petition for reconsideration is filed, the last date on which such a petition could have been filed; or

(4) Issuance of a final order or any other final resolution of a proceeding, such as a settlement or voluntary dismissal, which is not subject to a petition for reconsideration, or, in the case of an abatement, the end of the abatement period or the date on which an order is issued terminating the abatement period.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1225-0013)

[46 FR 63021, Dec. 29, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 14696, Apr. 6, 1982]

Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

§16.301   Filing and service of documents.

Any application for an award or other pleading or document related to an application shall be filed with the adjudicative officer and served on all parties to the proceeding in the same manner as other pleadings in the proceeding.

§16.302   Answer to application.

(a) Within 30 days after service of an application, counsel representing the agency against which an award is sought may file an answer to the application. Unless agency counsel 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 award requested.

(b) If agency counsel 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 adjudicative officer upon request by agency counsel and the applicant.

(c) The answer shall explain in detail any objections to the award requested and identify the facts relied on in support of agency counsel's position. If the answer is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the proceeding, agency counsel shall include with the answer either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §16.304.

§16.303   Settlement.

The applicant and agency counsel may agree on a proposed settlement of the award before final action on the application, either in connection with a settlement of the underlying proceeding, or after the underlying proceeding has been concluded, in accordance with the agency's standard settlement procedure. If a prevailing party and agency counsel agree on a proposed settlement of an award before an application has been filed, the application shall be filed with the proposed settlement.

§16.304   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 agency counsel, or on his or her own initiative, the adjudicative officer may order further proceedings, such as an informal conference, oral argument, additional written submissions or an evidentiary hearing. Such further proceedings shall be held only when necessary for full and fair resolution of the issues arising from the application, and shall be conducted as promptly as possible.

(b) A request that the adjudicative officer order 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 the issues.

§16.305   Decision.

The adjudicative officer shall issue a recommended decision on the application which 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 decisions shall also include, if at issue, findings on whether the agency's position was substantially justified, whether the applicant unduly protracted the proceedings, or whether special circumstances make an award unjust. If the applicant has sought an award against more than one agency, the decision shall allocate responsibility for payment of any award made among the agencies, and shall explain the reasons for the allocation made.

§16.306   Review by the Secretary.

The Secretary, for purposes of this subsection, means the Secretary of Labor or a person, board or other organizational unit authorized to perform the review function. Either the applicant or agency counsel may seek review of the recommended decision on the fee application, or the Secretary may decide to review the decision on his or her own initiative, in accordance with the Department of Labor's regular review procedures. If neither the applicant nor agency counsel seeks review and the Secretary does not take review on his or her own initiative, the adjudicative officer's decision on the application shall become a final decision of the Department 45 days after it is issued. If review is taken, the Secretary will issue a final decision on the application or remand the application to the adjudicative officer for further proceedings.

§16.307   Judicial review.

Judicial review of final agency decisions on awards may be sought as provided in 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(2).

§16.308   Payment of award.

An applicant seeking payment of an award shall submit to the Comptroller for the Department of Labor a copy of the final decision granting the award, accompanied by a statement that the applicant will not seek review of the decision in the United States courts. The request for payment shall be addressed to: Comptroller, U.S. Department of Labor, Frances S. Perkins Building, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210.



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