Harassment is not the first hazard people associate with working at sea, but it is a prevalent threat that causes serious harm for many mariners. If you suffered from harassment, aggressive or threatening treatment, or unwelcome sexual advances while working on a boat or ship, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you’ve endured.
What Laws Apply to Discrimination and Harassment at Sea?
Depending on the circumstances, a maritime attorney could use federal or state civil rights laws to pursue relief or they might file a claim for compensation under maritime law. Because civil rights claims have a narrow filing window, mariners may find it more appropriate to use maritime provisions for remedies. Options include filing a claim:
- For maintenance and cure. To obtain payment of medical treatment and the daily maintenance rate(based on food, lodging, and basic expenses), this “no-fault rule” does not require an injured mariner to show any negligence on the part of the employer or unseaworthiness on part of the owner. Moreover, recovery may be provided for purely psychological injuries, physical injury, or a combination of both sustained from the harassment or discrimination.
- Under the Jones Act. If a worker’s emotional injuries from harassment manifest in physical symptoms or risk of immediate physical harm, a Jones Act claim could allow for recovery. One way to seek compensation under the Jones Act is to show that the employer failed to implement or was negligent in enforcing anti-harassment policies, was negligent in hiring, failed to properly supervise crew, or failed to stop known harassment from superiors or crew members.
- Under the doctrine of unseaworthiness. If a harassing crewmember’s presence on board makes a ship unsafe, workers could file a claim based on the concept that the crewmember is unfit and has made the vessel unseaworthy.
Collecting evidence to show that harassment at sea caused harm to a mariner and created unsafe conditions can help with recovery for illegal and unwelcome treatment in this work environment.
What Constitutes Harassment?
Under civil rights law, harassment can consist of many types of conduct. Because recovery for harassment under maritime law is not yet as common, it is a good idea to consult a maritime attorney to assess whether conduct in your case rises to the level of legally actionable harassment.
In previous cases, workers facing harassment have been able to recover for conduct such as unwanted touching from co-workers, threats of sexual assault, and derogatory comments, and disparate treatment based on race or nationality. Physical manifestations of the stress caused by harassment could include weight loss, insomnia, and hair loss. Unlike workers in other fields, mariners live in close proximity to their co-workers and may never have the opportunity to get away to an environment where they feel safe.
Consult a Maritime Attorney if You Face Harassment at Sea
Harassment at sea may be seen as part of the traditional culture, but it is no longer legally permitted as it has been in the past. To protect their rights and future opportunities, mariners facing harassment are advised to consult a knowledgeable maritime attorney.
The experienced legal team at Latti & Anderson understands the devastating effects of harassment for maritime workers and is ready to fight to help you receive fair treatment. Contact us today to find out what may be possible in your case.