Mariners sue Bouchard for unpaid wages

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Bouchard Transportation’s problems continue to mount. In addition to being the subject of multiple Captain of the Port Orders (see earlier story), the company faces a lawsuit brought on behalf of several Bouchard mariners who assert that they have not been paid for any work performed this year.

A complaint filed February 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, asserts that Bouchard Transportation has benefitted from the labor of some 200 employees from January 1, 2020, to the present without issuing any compensation.

CLASS ACTION STATUS SOUGHT

The suit has been brought by New York attorney Paul Hofmann of law firm
Hofmann & Schweitzer, on behalf of several Bouchard employees. They come from many different states and are seeking class action status for the suit.

According to the complaint, the seamen were told by the company’s payroll administrator that Bouchard would not be making the payroll payments scheduled for February 7 for any work already performed by the seamen on any vessel in its fleet performed in January 2020 .

After hearing that they would not be paid, the complaint asserts, some plaintiffs returning from vacation breaks have refused to report to their vessels. Some plaintiffs continue to work on their vessels out of a sense of loyalty, fear of discipline, or to retain their Coast Guard licenses and documentation. Furthermore, says the complaint, some were told that if they left their vessels unattended or otherwise not in compliance with Coast Guard regulations, the seamen would be subject to Coast Guard discipline.

In failing to make daily wage payments, plaintiffs claim that Bouchard violated their employment contracts as well as federal labor laws. Each employee is seeking the full amount of unpaid wages due to him, as well as penalty wages, fees, and attorney costs. The amount of wages owed to current plaintiffs ranges from $5,760 to $15,250, not counting any contributions to fringe benefit programs, bonuses, retirement accounts, or future opportunities.

Court documents filed by Hofmann & Schweitzer claim that Bouchard’s refusal to pay wages creates a lien for each plaintiff against the vessels on which they sailed and worked. As a result, says the law firm, seamen serving on any vessel in the fleet who have not been paid in full for performing their duties should take quick action to preserve their rights to file a claim.

If the court denies class action status, says the law firm, Bouchard employees have the right to retain counsel to pursue individual claims. All are hopeful that the pending legal action will allow them to recoup the money owed to them, whether or not they continue employment with the company.

Read the complaint HERE

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