Sample Case Study on SeaWorld of Florida v. Perez


The case study of Sea World of Florida V. Perez pertains to safety protocols that were enforced to guarantee the trainers of safety. It can also be argued that the rules were set up in response to the violent nature of the killer whales, which shows that Sea World already knew the risk trainer Brancheau was exposed to. The legal aspect of this case involves the violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act. The analysis of how OSHA enforces workplace safety and health issues, as well as the components of a valid claim under OSHA Act forms the basis of this paper. In addition, I am in agreement with the court’s decision that Sea World ought to have done more to prevent the hazard.

The Legal Issues Enforced by OSHA

The most apparent legal issue in this case study was whether Sea World of Florida’s actions were in violation of the General Duty Clause as stipulated in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Walsh, 2015). The general duty clause was put in place to minimize the dangers that employers put their employees through. Given that Sea World had the knowledge that these animals, especially Tilikum are extremely dangerous shows that it is liable. According to Walsh (2015), Tilikum is known to be aggressive and strong, having previously killed a trainer in British Columbia. As a result, the appeals court found Sea World to be in violation of the General Duty clause even if the abatement process had been put in place to prevent this from taking place.

According to Draft (2011), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory outlines what motivates people, especially the employees. For example, the theory proposes that people must feel emotionally secure and physically safe in their workplace in order to be successful. Sea World applied operant conditioning to the killer whales as a way of preventing them from misbehaving. Sea World used food and other forms of treatment as a way of communicating with the killer whales. However, nothing in the events that occurred to Dawn Brancheau showed this kind of conditioning had worked or was currently working elsewhere as a deterrent to keep the whales from misbehaving. If applying this kind of psychology on whales would have been beneficial to understand, then meeting an employee’s hierarchy of needs would equally be beneficial and, probably it would have triggered more input from the trainers.

How the Plaintiff Established a Violation

The plaintiff established a valid violation under the OSHA Act, specifically on the General Duty Clause. The plaintiff discovered an action in the workplace that exposes workers to a great risk. Working with killer whales was considered a dangerous work, which required intensive training to reduce risk exposure (Walsh, 2015). Even Sea World was aware that the work of training in an environment dominated by killer whales was certainly dangerous, given the previous deaths that had occurred under similar circumstances. Any activity that can potentially cause injury, harm or even death to workers is considered a risk. Dawn Brancheau’s death qualifies as a death from a risky work activity, which is a violation under the General Duty clause of OSHA Act. The actions of Sea World, including training the employees to stay three feet from the whales and to adhere to safety protocols, demonstrated that the work environment was too risky.

How OSHA Enforces Workplace Safety and Health Standards

According to Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart & Wright (2015), OSHA’s main enforcement strategy to deter unsafe working conditions is conducting inspections on a regular basis. The periodic inspections are done randomly to ensure that businesses adhere to health standards all the time. By surprising businesses with unscheduled inspections, businesses maintain policies and satisfactory working conditions all the time, which ensures that employees and customers are safe. OSHAA’s inspections comprise of four components, including checking businesses injuries records and possible deaths from workplace injuries. Secondly, OSHA representatives walk around business premises taking notes of the areas that are not compliant with the General Duty clause (Noe et al, 2015). Thirdly, OSHA representatives establish if a business is aware of the violations and where no one is aware, the representatives draw the attention of the appropriate people. Lastly, the compliance officials hold a meeting with the business where the compliance provide their findings and issue directives and timelines of what needs to be done.

Whether I Agree with the Court’s Decision and Whether Sea World Could Have Done More

I agree with the court’s decision that found Sea World to have violated the General Duty Clause, thereby imposing a hefty fine of $7,000. I believe that Sea World could have done more to abate the hazard. Given that Sea World was already aware that killer whales had caused death in similar circumstances, they ought to have put in place stringent measures to protect the trainers.




Daft, R. L. (2014). The leadership experience. Cengage Learning.

Noe, R. A., Hollenbeck, J. R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. M. (2015). Human resource management. Gaining a Competitive.

Walsh, D. J. (2015). Employment law for human resource practice. Nelson Education.