Maritime Industry Becoming Hotbed For Labor, Sex Trafficking
A federal judge has ruled that a sex trafficking and labor trafficking lawsuit against a Jacksonville company may proceed. The company has denied all allegations related to the lawsuit.
In one complaint, a former employee alleges that she was raped by a supervisor. The same supervisor was accused of several other assaults. When the employee reported the sexual misconduct to a supervisor, she was told to stay silent, and that she would still need to go on a business trip with the man under the threat of termination. She alleges that a forcible rape occurred on this business trip. She was told to “shut up” after reporting the second complaint.
The employee was eventually fired for poor work performance and offered $600 in exchange for a confidentiality agreement which she refused to sign. Instead, she filed a lawsuit against the company.
The company was able to dismiss allegations against it for negligent retention and supervision. However, the plaintiff was able to get three allegations through. Those allegations are sex trafficking, sexual battery, and false imprisonment. The assaulter’s motion to dismiss was denied in full.
What type of lawsuit is this?
Lawsuits against employers for sexual assault are filed under civil rights legislation. In most cases, lawsuits against employers for injuries that occur are blocked by statute. Instead, workers can file workers’ compensation claims. However, the incident must be an accident. Sexual assaults are not accidents and thus, they aren’t covered by workers’ compensation. That leaves us with torts and civil rights.
Since the incident occurred on the high seas, there are special rules and these rules may only apply to companies that fly under the American flag. That means that often, civil rights legislation may not apply. That leaves torts.
Torts are injury lawsuits filed against a contributor of negligence or malice. In this case, the company is accused of endangering the welfare of their workers by exposing them to a dangerous employee who had a propensity for sexual violence. The company is accused of knowingly exposing female employees to that danger.
If the lawsuit were filed onshore, it would be a civil rights lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and more. Since the lawsuit occurred aboard a boat, it will be a tort against her employer alleging negligent exposure to a known danger.
Talk to a Miami Maritime Lawyer Today
Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford represents the interests of those who have been injured aboard maritime vessels. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.