Are You a Maritime Worker or Seaman and Have Been Retaliated Against by Your Employer? If so, You May Have a Claim Pursuant to the Seaman’s Protection Act.
If you are a maritime worker or seaman (a person engaged or employed in any capacity on board a U.S. flag vessel or any other vessel owned by a citizen of the United States) and your employer has fired you or taken negative employment action against you for any of the following you may have a claim against your employer under the Seaman’s Protection Act:
- You reported a violation of a maritime safety law or regulation to the U.S. Coast Guard or other appropriate Federal agency;
- You refused to perform duties ordered by your employer because you reasonably feared that performing such duties would result in serious harm to you, other seaman, or the public;
- You testified in a proceeding to enforce a maritime safety law or regulation;
- You notified or attempted to notify the vessel owner or the U.S. Coast Guard of a work-related personal injury or illness;
- You cooperated with a safety investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard or the National Transportation Safety Board;
- You furnished information to the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any other public official about the facts relating to any marine casualty resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with vessel transportation; or
- You accurately reported hours of duty.
Negative employment action may include the following:
- Firing or laying off;
- Denying overtime or promotion;
- Denying benefits;
- Failing to hire or rehire;
- Making threats;
- Reassignment affecting pay or promotion; or
- Reducing pay or hours.
The deadline to file a complaint against your employer is 180 days from the negative employment action. The complaint must be filed with OSHA. Upon timely receipt of a complaint, OSHA will review it to determine whether it is appropriate to conduct an investigation.
If OSHA undertakes an investigation and evidence supports your claim of negative employment action, and a voluntary settlement cannot be reached, OSHA will issue an order requiring reinstatement of employment (if you were fired) as well as other possible relief to make you whole, including the following:
- Payment of back pay with interest;
- Compensation for special damages, to include attorney’s fees and other fees you may have incurred related to the employer’s actions; or
- Punitive damages up to $250,000.
If you have been fired, demoted, or treated unfairly by your employer for reporting alleged violations of maritime safety laws or regulations, for refusing to perform work because of a fear that performing such work would result in personal injury, or for reporting a work-related injury, Contact Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC for a free consultation about your legal rights and remedies.