Tankerman fights seaman status in wage dispute

GALVESTON � Andrew Bryant has filed class action suits against Enterprise Products Partners L.P. and American Commercial Lines LLC over unpaid overtime wages.

ACL and Enterprise employ hundreds of tankermen, including Bryant, who generally work 84 hours per workweek, but the entities do not pay them overtime, according to recent court documents filed June 29 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

The plaintiffs are putative class members who were employed by either defendant as a tankerman within the past three years and paid a day rate with no overtime compensation.

Bryant claims the defendants classify tankermen as exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act under the "seaman" exemption, but tankermen do not qualify for that exemption.

"A tankerman's primary job duties are related to the loading, unloading and handling of liquid cargo from the defendants' vessels," both original petitions say.

"The controlling law makes it clear this is non-seaman's work."

Bryant states that maritime employees who spend more than 20 percent of their time performing such duties are not FLSA "seaman" � and are thus not exempt. He claims the defendants owe back overtime wages to numerous tankermen.

"The defendants knowingly, willfully or in reckless disregard carried out their illegal pattern or practice of failing to pay the plaintiff and all those similarly situated overtime compensation," the suit says.

Jury trials are requested.

Attorneys Michael A. Josephson and Richard J. Burch of Houston are representing the complainants, and U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt is presiding over the cases.

Case Nos. 3:11-cv-296, 3:11-cv-297

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