The Importance Of "Seaman" Status For The Fledgling Offshore Wind Industry
- Oct 18, 2021 3:10 pm GMT
Many workers serving this new energy industry will be subject to difficult classification. This aspect will affect such issues as: will the worker be a seaman with Jones Act rights or a maritime worker subject to the Longshore Act? And will she or he be a seaman exempt from overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act? Two recent cases highlight these issues.
In Williams v.
"All Coast hired
The court noted that the FLSA defines "seaman" for its purposes as someone who is subject to the vessel master's authority and who is "employed as" as seaman. The Fifth Circuit held that it is irrelevant that the employee is called a seaman by the employer. The critical question according to the court is whether the employee performs duties that serve the "transportation" function of the vessel. Because Williams spent most of his time operating cranes, the court held that he was not properly characterized as a "seaman" for FLSA purposes. Thus, he was entitled to overtime pay. No doubt many workers aboard vessels serving the new offshore wind industry will be able to make similar arguments as Williams.
In Sanchez v Smart Fabricators of
As the offshore wind industry grows, we can expect that these types of issues will arise with ever more frequency. Fortunately, there is a significant body of law available that maritime lawyers and insurance professionals can rely upon to help answer these questions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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