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Office of Administrative Law Judges
Guidelines for Citation of Decisions

Revised May 2, 2011

The Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) website distributes both reported ALJ and ARB decisions and electronic slip opinions. The reported decisions are accessed through the caselists found in the OALJ Law Library, while the electronic slip opinions are accessed through OALJ's "Docket Search."


OALJ does not require any particular format for the citation of decisions in legal documents; however, the following guidelines are recommended for decisions obtained from the OALJ website. Generally, citation is made by name of parties, case number, agency official, and date.


For ALJ decisions obtained from OALJ's Docket Search (generally those issued after the fall of 2000), a simple case citation as follows is recommended. For these documents, it does not matter whether the file format is Adobe PDF or HTML, as the pagination is the same.

  • Thompson v. University of Georgia, 2005-CAA-1 (ALJ Nov. 29, 2004)

To cite to a specific page, use this format (using page 5 as an example):

  • Thompson v. University of Georgia, 2005-CAA-1, at 5 (ALJ Nov. 29, 2004)

For ALJ decisions not from OALJ's Docket Search, and for ARB decisions, it is necessary to identify whether the citation is to the PDF version or the HTML version, as the pagination is not identical. For this example, the citation is to page 5 of the decision:

  • PDF Version:

    Acord v. Alyseska Pipeline Service Co., ARB No. 97-011, ALJ No. 1995-TSC-4, PDF at 5 (ARB June 30, 1997)

  • HTML Version:

    Acord v. Alyseska Pipeline Service Co., ARB No. 97-011, ALJ No. 1995-TSC-4, HTML at 5 (ARB June 30, 1997)

The reason for the difference is that the "Docket Search" decisions originate from OALJ's Document Management System. These documents are copies of the same PDF file used to print off the ALJ's decision. Thus, they have the same format and pagination as the official file copy of the decision. OALJ also creates HTML versions of the document that preserve the format and pagination of the original file copy.

Most other ALJ, Secretary of Labor, WAB, BCA and BALCA decisions on the OALJ website, however, were converted from paper or legacy collections of electronic records into PDF or HTML files. This conversion process did not preserve the format and pagination of the original document. Similarly, the ARB decisions on this website are not generated through OALJ's Document Management System. Rather, they are converted from electronic files supplied by the ARB, and given an USDOL/OALJ Reporter footer to identify them as being from the OALJ Reporter. Their pagination is not identical to the ARB slip opinions.



This Office adjudicates cases involving a wide variety of complainants, claimants, respondents, carriers, employers, aliens, and other parties. Generally, it is proper to use the name of parties from the caption of the decision, omitting procedural titles and including only the last names of individuals.

If the case involves one party "versus" another party, the citation includes both parties. For example, a whistleblower case is cited "Jones v. Nuclear Power Inc., 1993-ERA-14, at 2 (one private litigant suing another)." In contrast, the caption would read Robert Jones, Complainant, v. Nuclear Power Inc., Respondent, 1993-ERA-14." The words "Robert," "Complainant," and "Respondent" do not need to be included in the citation. If, however, the Respondent was Robert Jones Trucking, the word "Robert" would not be omitted because that is the name of a business rather than an individual.

Where both the Department and a private citizen are bringing the action, use both names in the cite. For example, a Surface Transportation Assistance Act case would be cited "Ass't Sec'y & Jones v. Trucking Inc., 1994-STA-14."

If the case has no party "versus" another, only cite the first party in the caption other than the Department. For example, a permanent alien labor certification appeal involves an employer bringing an appeal on behalf of an alien. Such a case would be cited by the employer's name, even though other parties may be mentioned in the caption. For example, "Jones Typewriter Repair, 1993-INA-14 (BALCA Mar. 1, 1993)" is a correct cite, even though the caption would read "Jones Typewriter Repair, Employer, on behalf of Robert Jones, Alien".

On this website, where the party is the United States Department of Labor, the acronym USDOL is frequently used.

Case number:

An OALJ case number is assigned for each matter docketed based on the Fiscal Year, a three letter code designating the case type, and chronological number. For example, 1992-ERA-36 would be the 36th Energy Reorganization Act whistleblower case docketed in Fiscal Year 1992.

Change in Fiscal Year Format:

In 1999, OALJ changed from two digit Fiscal Year designations, to four digit Fiscal Year designations. Decisions written prior to mid-1999 may use a two digit designation (e.g. 92-ERA-10); however, when citing the decision in a brief or filing, it is now proper to use the four digit designation (e.g. 1992-ERA-10) even if the decision was written prior to the transition.

Citation of Administrative Review Board decisions:

The Administrative Review Board places both the OALJ Case Number and its own ARB No. on case captions. The ARB number should be included in the citation; however, the OALJ Reporter is organized based on the OALJ number. Thus, it is essential that the OALJ Case No. be included in the citation. For example, Martin v. The Dept. of the Army, ARB No. 96-131, ALJ No. 1993-SDW-1 (ARB July 30, 1999).

Some decisions issued by the ARB do not originate in the OALJ. In such cases, just cite the ARB No. For example, Cobro Corp., ARB No. 97-104 (ARB July 30, 1999).

Citation of Wage Appeals Board decisions:

The Wage Appeals Board (now replaced by the ARB) did not use the OALJ case number. Thus, cases from the WAB Decisions library are cited xx-WAB-xx rather than xxxx-DBA-xx. Note: The WAB was replaced by the Administrative Review Board, effective May 3, 1996.

Page number:

ALJ decisions obtained from the OALJ "Docket Search" method (those originating from OALJ's Document Management System after the fall of 2000) have the same pagination as the original slip opinion.

Other ALJ decisions and the ARB decisions on this website have been assigned page numbers for citation. The PDF and the HTML versions of reported decisions may have slight differences in pagination.

For ARB decisions, page numbers on PDF documents are shown in a footer that states "USDOL/OALJ Reporter." For example:

Image showing page number in PDF document

Page numbers on HTML documents may be shown by a line across the page followed by the page number in brackets. For example:

Image showing page number in HTML document

Page numbers on some HTML documents may be shown by a ~ followed by a page number. For example:

Image showing page number in text document

Agency Official

Inside the parenthetical, the first designation is what agency official rendered the decision. The most common of these designations are:

  • Adm = Administrator (e.g., Administrative of the Pension & Welfare Benefits Administration)

  • ALJ = administrative law judge (wide variety of case types)

  • ARB = Administrative Review Board

  • Ass't Sec'y = Assistant Secretary (context will vary)

  • BALCA = Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (permanent alien labor certification and other miscellaneous immigration- related matters)

  • BCA = Board of Contract Appeals

  • BRB = Benefits Review Board (Longshore & Black Lung Appeals)

  • BSCA = Board of Service Contract Appeals (BSCA was replaced by the ARB, effective May 3, 1996)

  • Dep. Sec'y = Deputy Secretary

  • OAA = Office of Administrative Appeals (OAA was replaced by the ARB, effective May 3, 1996)

  • PWBA = Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration

  • Sec'y = Secretary of Labor

  • WAB = Wage Appeals Board (WAB was replaced by the ARB, effective May 3, 1996)


Use the date issued. Abbreviate as follows

  • January = Jan.

  • February = Feb.

  • March = Mar.

  • April = Apr.

  • May = May

  • June = June

  • July = July

  • August = Aug.

  • September = Sept.

  • October = Oct.

  • November = Nov.

  • December = Dec.

See U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual Par. 9.44 (Jan. 1973).


Some federal court decisions have been placed in the OALJ Law Library to assist research. OALJ does not, however, purport to be an official publisher of those decisions, and litigants should refer to officially reported decisions when citing to such decisions (e.g., the U.S. Supreme Court Reporter or the Lawyers' Edition2d, Federal Reporters, Federal Supplements, etc.).