Workers stranded on Celebrity Cruises ship can sue under collegium rules

Workers stranded on Celebrity Cruises ship can sue under collegium rules

The 315-meter (1,033-foot) passenger ship Celebrity Equinox sails on the Ems River between Papenburg and Lehr in northern Germany on June 20, 2009. The liner was built by the German shipyard Meyer Werft in Papenburg for Celebrity Cruises, a cruise line based in the United States. REUTERS/Maurice Mack Matzen

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  • The workers were laid off, but could not leave the ship for two months during the pandemic
  • The judge referred the case to private arbitration, citing the settlement
  • The Court of Appeal stated that the claims are not related to the employment of the employees

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court said on Friday that two former Celebrity Cruises Inc crew members who say they were fired during the COVID-19 pandemic and then forced to stay on the ship for two months can sue the company instead. private arbitration.

11. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the arbitration agreements the workers had signed covered only claims arising out of their employment, not the plaintiffs’ claims for willful misconduct that arose after they were fired.

Plaintiffs Ryan Maglana and Francis Bugayon, who are citizens of the Philippines, had already been on the ship for more than six weeks when Celebrity fired them in March 2020 for allegedly stealing a bottle of Scotch, according to court filings.

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But they claim that even though the ship called several times, Celebrity prevented them and 200 other Filipino workers from disembarking until late May, after Maglan sued the company while still on board.

Maglana and Bugayong accused the celebrity of false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The company denies wrongdoing.

Celebrity and its parent company, Royal Caribbean Group, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Philip Parris, said his clients were pleased with the decision. He also said they deny stealing the alcohol.

In the early days of the pandemic, many cruise ships were stranded as the US and other countries began closing their borders to stop the spread of Covid-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered cruise ships to suspend operations months after the pandemic began.

Celebrity’s Millennium cruise ship, where the plaintiffs were working on liquor supplies, stopped carrying passengers in February 2020 and headed from the Philippines to Hawaii, Mexico and San Diego in the coming months, before allowing crew members to leave the ship in May, according to filings on Friday. thing.

US District Judge Jose Martinez sent the suit to arbitration in October 2020, agreeing with Celebrity that the plaintiffs’ arbitration agreements applied because their claim was related to their employment.

The 11th Circuit reversed, saying the claims were outside the scope of the plaintiffs’ employment. Maglana and Bugayong were not working when Celebrity stopped carrying passengers, and most of the time they spent on board they were not even working, the court heard.

Circuit Judges Jill Pryor, Elizabeth Branch and Frank Hall were on the committee.

The case is Maglan v. Celebrity Cruises Inc, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-14206.

For Plaintiffs: Philip Parris

For Celebrity: Michael Donough of Hamilton Miller & Burtissell

Read more:

US cruise operators suspend flights until October 31

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Daniel Wiesner

Thomson Reuters

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policymaking. He can be reached at [email protected]

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