Case Name: Jeremy Selby v Yacht Starship, Inc., and Troy Manthey
Date Decided: August 20, 2008
Court: U.S.D.C. M.D. Florida
Citation: 2008 WL 3889625 (M.D. Fla.)

Background:
Employee, Jeremy Selby (“Selby”) sued employer, Yacht Starship Inc. (“Starship”), and president Troy Manthey (“Manthey”), claiming a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) in the failure to pay him one and one-half times his regular pay rate for every hour worked in excess of 40 hour work week. Defendants moved for Summary judgment.

Plaintiff worked for Starship and was classified by the defendants as a full-time marine crew member.  During the pertinent period the plaintiff served as an engineer and chief engineer, and as a marine crew member he reported to the captain. Duties included, but were not limited to, performing preventative maintenance.

Plaintiff worked more than forty hours many weeks without receiving overtime pay.  As a result, brought an action to recover overtime wages under the FLSA. Defendants refused to pay claiming plaintiff was an exempted seaman under the FLSA thus not entitled to overtime wages and filed a motion for summary judgment.

Issue:
Did the Court find that plaintiff was a seaman exempted from overtime pay under the FLSA and as a result rule as a matter of law in favor of the defendants?\

Held:

Summary judgment will be rendered if the evidence, construed in favor of the nonmoving party, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant  is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

FLSA requires employers to provide compensation for each hour worked in excess of forty at a rate no less than one and one-half times an employer’s regular rate. However, the FLSA exempts any employee employed as a “seaman”. Furthermore, “seaman” is defined in a Department of Labor interpretive bulletin, 29 C.F.R. pt. 783, “if he performs, as master or subject to authority, direction, and control of the master aboard a vessel service which is rendered primarily as an aid in the operation in such vessel as a means of transportation, provided he performs no substantial amount of work of a different character”.

Furthermore, the DOL states employee’s eligibility for the seaman exemption depends upon the character of the work he performs what it is called and where it is performed. Merely by occasionally performing seaman’s duties does not render employee exempt under the FLSA.

The DOL further states an employee’s non-seaman work is “substantial”, excluding a seaman exemption, if it occupies more than 20 percent of the time worked by the employee during the work week.

This Court held that because plaintiff did not introduce evidence establishing that he worked more than 20 percent performing non seamans duties, then as a matter of law, defendants were entitled, as a matter of law, to summary judgment.

Comment:
The “seaman exemption”, under FLSA, is important as it relates to employees classified as seamen under the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act an employee is a seaman if, (1) his duties contribute to the function or accomplishment of a vessel’s mission and (2) a connection to the vessel in navigation substantial in both nature and duration. Thus, a Jones Act seaman is likely exempted from receiving overtime pay.

Steve Gordon
http://www.offshoreinjuries.com

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