We have been reporting on the major cruise lines forceing their crew member employees to sign arbitration agreements. These arbitration agreements deprive crew members of having their personal injury and wages claims decided by judges and juries. Courts, however, are starting to limit the cruise lines’ ability to preclude crew members’ access to court. Claims of rape and sexual assault are such instances where courts refused to require arbitration.
Courts have determined the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Arbitration Convention) allows cruise lines to force their crew members to arbitrate personal injury and wage claims. Nearly every major cruise line including, Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America (HAL), Norwegian (NCL), Princess, Royal Caribbean, and others force their crew members to sign contracts which require any claim arising from their employment to be submitted to arbitration. Courts have recently been asked if crew member rape and sexual assault claims must also be arbitrated. The courts said NO! Their reasoning is the Arbitration Convention only governs disputes relating to, arising out of, or connected with employment; and, the heinous acts of rape and sexual assault have no relationship to employment. Based on this reasoning, the crew members were allow to pursue their claims in court.
This is one instance in a growing trend where courts are limiting the cruise lines’ ability to force crew members to arbitrate their claims. If you have any questions concerning this article, do not hesitate to contact our board certified maritime lawyers and attorneys.