Doyle Dennis LLP recently filed suit against Channelview-based Hard’s Marine Service, Ltd. The firm’s client was a Merchant Marine Seaman who worked for Hard’s Marine Service. While working, the client learned that a coworker was extremely sick. According to other colleagues, including the sick-coworker’s brother, who also worked aboard the vessel, was showing signs of severe COVID-19 symptoms. Doyle Dennis LLP’s client expressed concerns to his superior. In response, the Hard’s Marine Service worker dismissed Doyle Dennis LLP’s client’s concerns. Doyle Dennis LLP’s client later learned that the coworker tested positive for COVID-19. Doyle Dennis LLP’s was subsequently fired for reporting his concerns about COVID-19 and the crew’s exposure to the virus.
The Seaman’s Protection Act provides whistleblower protections for seamen. The Seaman’s Protection Act makes it illegal for an employer or vessel owner to retaliate against seamen for reporting violations of law, including reporting maritime safety issues. Doyle Dennis LLP’s client engaged in protected activity. Doyle Dennis LLP’s client refused to perform duties because he reasonably expected or apprehended that performing such duties would result in serious injury to the seaman, other seamen, or the public. The client also requested that Hard’s Marine Service correct a dangerous condition – meeting with personnel, after being exposed to COVID-19. Doyle Dennis LLP’s client also reported that an unsafe condition of the vessel. As a result of this dangerous condition, the employer was required to report this condition. It did not. Furthermore, Doyle Dennis LLP’s client reported that his coworker had testified positive for COVID-19. Hard’s Marine Service wrongfully fired Doyle Dennis LLP’s client for reporting a serious safety concern and refusing to perform a dangerous task, in violation of the Seaman’s Protection Act.
Based on the requirements of the Seaman’s Protection Act, Doyle Dennis LLP filed a complaint on behalf of the client with OSHA earlier this year. Because OSHA had not made any positive nor negative findings regarding the complaint, Doyle Dennis LLP filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, Texas.
Doyle Dennis LLP fights for its clients who work in the maritime industry. If you were fired for reporting safety issues while working offshore, contact Doyle Dennis LLP today for a free evaluation of your potential claims.