When is a Deckhand not a Seaman?

Monday, August 22, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that a deckhand might not be a seaman for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and that the issue is a question of fact. In the instant case, plaintiff sued her employer, a commuter ferry, for failure to pay overtime as required by the FLSA. Defendant employer moved for summary judgment, contending a deckhand is a seaman and that seamen are exempt from the FLSA overtime requirement. The trial court granted the motion and plaintiff appealed, contending that she merely took passenger’s tickets, loaded and unloaded passengers, and ensured the safe exiting of passengers. The court held that regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor state that the character of the work performed, not the job title, determine whether an individual is exempt from the overtime requirement. Therefore, the trial court erred when it did not hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the work performed by the plaintiff. McLaughlin v. Boston Harbor Cruise Lines, Inc., No. 04-1519 (1st Cir., HK LAW)

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