CONGRESS ENACTS WHISTLEBLOWER STATUTE TO PROTECT SEAMAN WHO REPORT UNSAFE CONDITIONS OR INJURIES

 

In 2010, Congress enacted the Seaman’s Protection Act. The Act provides a remedy for seaman that have reported unsafe conditions to the United States Coast Guard, violations of U.S. Coast Guard regulations, refused to perform duties because of reasonable apprehension that performing such duties would result in personal injury, testified in any proceeding, cooperated with a safety investigation, or otherwise took action to, the seaman notified or attempted to notify the vessel owner of a work-related personal injury or illness. The following provisions set forth the text of the statute:

Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. §2114 (SPA) as amended by
Section 611 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, P.L. 111-281

§2114. Protection of seaman against discrimination.

(a)(1) A person may not discharge or in any manner discriminate against a seaman because–

   

(A) the seaman in good faith has reported or is about to report to the Coast Guard or other appropriate Federal agency or department that the seaman believes that a violation of a maritime safety law or regulation prescribed under that law or regulation has occurred;

   

(B) the seaman has refused to perform duties ordered by the seaman’s employer because the seaman has a reasonable apprehension or expectation that performing such duties would result in serious injury to the seaman, other seamen, or the public;

   

(C) the seaman testified in a proceeding brought to enforce a maritime safety law or regulation prescribed under that law;

   

(D) the seaman notified, or attempted to notify, the vessel owner or the Secretary of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness of a seaman;

   

(E) the seaman cooperated with a safety investigation by the Secretary or the National Transportation Safety Board;

   

(F) the seaman furnished information to the Secretary, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any other public official as to the facts relating to any marine casualty resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with vessel transportation; or

   

(G) the seaman accurately reported hours of duty under this part.

 

(2) The circumstances causing a seaman’s apprehension of serious injury under paragraph (1)(B) must be of such a nature that a reasonable person, under similar circumstances, would conclude that there is a real danger of an injury or serious impairment of health resulting from the performance of duties as ordered by the seaman’s employer.

 

(3) To qualify for protection against the seaman’s employer under paragraph (1)(B), the employee must have sought from the employer, and been unable to obtain, correction of the unsafe condition.

(b) A seaman alleging discharge or discrimination in violation of subsection (a) of this section, or another person at the seaman’s request, may file a complaint with respect to such allegation in the same manner as a complaint may be filed under subsection (b) of section 31105 of title 49. Such complaint shall be subject to the procedures, requirements, and rights described in that section, including with respect to the right to file an objection, the right of a person to file for a petition for review under subsection (c) of that section, and the requirement to bring a civil action under subsection (d) of that section.

If your employer has taken adverse action against you because you reported an unsafe condition, you may have a cause of action for violation of the Seaman’s Protection Act. Damages may include back pay that you would have earned but for the violation, future damages caused by your termination, and other damages caused by the action taken against you. Contact one of our lawyers for a no obligation analysis of your particular case at 1-866-377-0191.