The Jones Act is a comprehensive federal statute that regulates commercial maritime activity in the U.S. One of the most important aspects of the law is that it allows maritime workers (seaman) to hold their employer legally liable for injuries caused by the unseaworthiness of a vessel.
Seaman have the right to file a Jones Act injury claim without fear of facing retribution. The law strictly forbids retaliation. In this article, our Houston Jones Act attorney provides a comprehensive guide to your protections against retaliation as an employee under the law.
What is Retaliation?
Retaliation is a type of employment law claim. As defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is an adverse action (punishment) of a worker because that worker engaged in a legally protected activity. A number of different federal and state statutes prohibit retaliation against workers.
The Jones Act Protects Claimants Against Adverse Employment Action
The Jones Act has clear prohibitions against retaliation. Seaman (maritime workers) cannot be punished for filing an injury claim under the Jones Act. The law bars maritime employers—ship as ship owners or contractors—from taking retaliatory action against an employee who:
- Files a claim under the Jones Act;
- Indicates their intention to file a Jones Act claim; or
- Supports another worker’s Jones Act claim.
Three Key Elements of a Jones Act Retaliation Claim
Retaliation claims are complicated. To prove retaliation under the Jones Act, an employee must prove that their rights were violated under the law. Specifically, a seaman must be able to establish the following three elements:
- Protected Activity: An employee is only protected against retaliation under the Jones Act if he or she engaged in lawfully protected activity. The worker must have filed a claim, indicated their intention to file a claim, or supported another employee’s claim.
- Adverse Action: Adverse employment action is broadly defined as some form of negative employment action. Some notable examples include: Suspension, loss of benefits, harassment, and wrongful termination.
- Causation: Finally, the claimant in a Jones Act retaliation case must prove that there is a causal connection between their protected activity (filing a claim) and the adverse employment action taken by their maritime employer.
The Bottom Line: Maritime workers who were injured onboard a seafaring vessel have the right to file a personal injury claim under the Jones Act. It is illegal for their employer to punish them for doing so. A maritime employment subject to illegal retaliation can bring an additional legal claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Houston, TX Jones Act Attorney
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our Texas Jones Act attorney is standing by, ready to protect your rights and interests. If you were subject to retaliation by an employer after filing a Jones Act claim, we are more than ready to help. Call us now or contact us online to set up a free, no strings attached case review. Our maritime injury attorneys handle Jones Act claims throughout all of Texas.