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socrateaser, Lawyer
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I am a merchant seaman member of Seafarers International Union

Customer Question

I am a merchant seaman member of Seafarers International Union .I had a job on a Maersk Line ship and due to a violation of my contract shipping rights for time off work rules for tour of duty I lost my job.The agreement in contract states,after completing two trips 42 days each and have 84 days on vessel I am entitled a trip off for 42 days and then return to my job.I requested the Captain to have company contact union to ship seaman to be my relief for one trip.The Captain told me he received a message that I had to make another trip before I could have time-off I asked to see the message but he refused so I told him if he would not help resolve this and knowing that I was right I quit .I got off ship and found out I was right.My shipping rights were violated and since I should have still been able to complete 211 days of my tour of duty can file a lawsuit against both the company and union for causing this because they both did not even know the contract agreement for my job and this is the third time this has happened to me.The union and company solution is to just put me on another ship but that just violates other seaman rights to a job that have registered and this is what is called a back door job.I have been a union member for 35 years and no my rights,and the contract.I want to retire I am 60 years old and so can you help with an answer.Can I file a lawsuit for this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

A union worker may sue both the employer and the union simultaneously. This is called a "hybrid suit," pursuant to Section 301 of the National Labor Relations Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in DelCostello v. International Brotherhood,462 U.S. 151, 103 S.Ct. 2281, 76 L.Ed.2d 476 (1983) held that the six-month statute of limitations prescribed by § 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 160(b), applies to hybrid suits under § 301 -- where a plaintiff alleges that the employer has breached the collective bargaining agreement and that the union has breached its duty of fair representation.

There may be two issues here, which I cannot adequately address, but I can identify: (1) The registration of the ship that you were working on may affect the law under which your lawsuit would be brought, unless the shipping line has expressly consented to U.S. jurisdiction for the purposes of the collective bargaining agreement; and (2) The fact that you quit, could be used to claim that by quitting, the employer didn't actually breach any agreement to you, because, once you quit, you weren't entitled to the time off. Your rebuttal to this is that the employer had already breached the agreement by misrepresenting your rights to the time off, and so your quitting didn't terminate the contract as the employer was already in breach, and you were not in a position of being able to determine your rights until after you came ashore.

You will need a lawyer with both employment and admiralty law experience (a rarity, so be careful to check the references of whomever you interview).

For a referral, in California, see this link.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 34856
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you I already know a good lawyer in San Francisco but your answer will be a lot of help when I speak to him. Best Regards,Raymond

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
You're welcome and Good luck!

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