Staff on specialty ships wrongly categorised as seafarers: courtroom – company insurance

A federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling on Thursday, ruling that workers on special ships were not seafarers and therefore had to pay overtime under the law on fair labor standards.

All Coast LLC, based in Lafayette, Louisiana, owns and operates a fleet of self-propelled offshore self-propelled supply vessels known as lift boats. This emerges from the decision of the 5th US Court of Appeal in New Orleans in William Adams against All Coast on Thursday GMBH.

All Coast did not pay the plaintiffs who worked on the lift boats overtime because they were classified as seafarers exempt from overtime pay rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the law, employees must be paid at least an hour and a half if they work more than 40 hours a week.

Mr Adams filed a lawsuit against the company on behalf of himself and other workers, arguing that "its primary role is nothing to do with maritime work," the ruling reads.

Instead, "he spent much of his time operating a hydraulic crane to move personnel and equipment between the lift boat and dock, offshore construction site platforms and other vessels, and on the lift boat itself," the ruling said.

The US District Court in New Orleans gave All Coast a summary judgment in the The dismissal of the case and the holding of the workers was precisely classified as seafarers, since the operation of the lifting boat crane was a "service which is primarily provided as an aid in the operation of such a ship as a means of transport".

The verdict was overturned by a unanimous three-judge appeals court, which said the lower court's decision "runs counter to regulatory language and our decisions that interpret it."

“In the clear text of the regulation, this part of their time is not seaman's work if the crew helps with loading or unloading or with“ essentially industrial ”tasks. The record shows that the plaintiffs spent a lot of time doing just that, ”it said.

"Nor does the regulation suggest anything unique about the loading and unloading of plaintiffs, which would lead us to a different conclusion," it said.

"Our previous decisions only reinforce" the conclusion that the workers were not seafarers, stated the decision to overturn the district court and refer the case back for further trial.

Adam's attorney Curt Hesse, a partner of Moore and Associates in Houston, said in a statement: “We are very pleased with the Fifth Circuit decision. It underlines what we have said throughout the case: the sailors' exemption only applies to seafarers in the traditional sense of the word. This does not apply to workers doing industrial work, as our customers have actually done. "

All Coast attorneys have not returned a request for comment.

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