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Working on an Educational Research Vessel harbored in CA but working in Hawaii

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  • Working on an Educational Research Vessel harbored in CA but working in Hawaii

    My brother was working on an educational research vessel in CA that goes to Hawaii from January to March. During his time on the vessel in Hawaii they fired two captains amid harassment (some of it sexual). My brother was shot at by one captain with BB gun as he lead a school group on a kayak expedition. The captain laughed the entire time as my brother tried to lead this group on without them knowing he was being shot at. This is just one example of the type of activity that went on during the trip. The female workers were treated far worse.

    The owner of the boat says that he is on his own to find his way home and back to California. The owner told him that he is now homeless and that he will send his last paychecks back to California.

    Should the vessel be respoinsible for returning my brother to California?

    He was left on the dock with his bags and his cell phone after he said he could no longer tolerate the working conditions. He just called me from the dock minutes ago as the vessel pulled away and has no idea what he is going to do.

  • #2

    Unfortunately, the owner is not responsible for returning your brother back to Hawaii unless it is in the form of an agreement between the owner and your brother. If it is his word against your brother's, your brother probably doesn't have a lot to stand-on.

    Your brother may be able to file a claim of illegal harassment under federal statutes if the harassment was because of discrimination against a protected class (factors such as age, race, religion, gender, disability, national origin, etc.) AND if his employer is a US company and your brother is a US citizen. This is true even if they were in international waters. There are additional requirements, such as the employer must have at least 15 employees (for most kinds of discrimination). You can read more about discrimination at:

    The employer must make a reasonable effort to pay your brother his final wages. (I'm not sure how this employer thinks he will mail the checks to "California".) Best of luck to your brother.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator


    • #3
      My brother lives in California and has a permanent legal residence there, but the boat he works on goes to Hawaii for three months every year. He was living on the boat with the other crew members while in Hawaii (far more than 15 for the 110+ foot boat). The boat took him there and was supposed to bring him back when the three months was up. He was working on the boat in California before the trip and was going to continue working on the boat in California when they returned from the trip.

      Does any of this clarification change anything?
      Last edited by CTague; 02-13-2005, 12:13 PM.


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