Mariners sue Bouchard for unpaid wages

Problems at US ferry company Bouchard Transportation are mounting. It is already subject to multiple Captain of the Port Orders, and now it faces legal action brought on behalf of several Bouchard mariners, who claim they have not been paid for any work performed this year.

A complaint was filed on February 11th in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York asserting that Bouchard Transportation had benefited from the labour of some 200 employees since the start of the year, but had not paid them.

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.

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

As a result some plaintiffs returning from vacation breaks have refused to report to their vessels. Some plaintiffs continue to work on their vessels.

The complaint alleges that some were told that if they left their vessels unattended or otherwise not in compliance with US Coast Guard regulations, the seamen would be subject to USCG discipline.

Bouchard is alleged to have violated its employment contracts as well as federal labour 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 programmes, bonuses, retirement accounts, or future opportunities.

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.

Even if the court denies class action status, Bouchard employees have the right to retain counsel to pursue individual claims, the attorneys said.