Court of Appeal decision obtained by Goyette & Associates affirming CA overtime pay requirements for tugboat employees becomes final

by | Dec 11, 2009

Court of Appeal decision obtained by Goyette & Associates affirming CA overtime pay requirements for tugboat employees becomes final

 Goyette & Associates wage & hour attorney Gary Goyette has helped establish new case law affirming the application of California overtime pay requirements to tugboat employees working within California waters and servicing vessels which travel on the high seas involved in international trade. The California Supreme Court just denied the petition for review filed by the tugboat employer seeking to have the Court of Appeal decision affirming the overtime pay requirements, making the Court of Appeal decision final.
 As previously summarized, Gary Goyette has represented Bay Area tugboat Captain Jerrold Karmin since Mr. Karmin won his overtime pay complaint filed with the CA Labor Commissioner against his employer, Marine Express, and after this employer ‘appealed’ this award to the Alameda Count Superior Court. In the Superior Court, a one day bench trial was held and closing briefs were then filed by both sides. The attorneys for Marine Express argued that California overtime pay requirements (to pay time and a half wages for hours worked above eight hours in a day) did not apply to Mr. Karmin because he fell under the federal wage law ‘seaman’s exemption’ based on the fact that his work primarily involved transporting personnel and goods in the San Francisco Bay to ocean-going vessels anchored in the Bay, and therefore his work qualified as interstate and/or international trade falling under Maritime law. In turn, Marine Express attorneys argued that the federal ‘seaman’s exemption’, which did not require overtime pay for extra hours worked, controlled over or “preempted” the state wage law overtime pay requirements. The Superior Court agreed with the Marine Express arguments and ruled that CA overtime pay requirements were preempted by the federal wage law ‘seaman’s exemption’ for tugboat employees servicing ocean-going vessels.
Goyette & Associates appealed this ruling for Mr. Karmin to the California Court of Appeal, which reversed the Superior Court ruling and concluded that the federal wage law ‘seaman’s exemption’ does not preempt California’s overtime pay requirements for tugboat employees servicing ocean-going vessels. The Court of Appeal relied on the established case law cited by Gary Goyette to find that transportation of personnel and goods to vessels which would travel on the high seas, engaging in international trade and falling under various aspects of Maritime law, did not alter the application of state wage law regarding overtime pay – – at least not for tugboat employees working within California boundaries/waters. The Court of Appeal found the mere ‘connection’ to international trade did not affect California overtime pay requirements. Click here to view the document.
Also as previously summarized, Marine Express refused to accept the Court of Appeal decision as issued, and filed a petition for review to the California Supreme Court. On December 2nd, the Supreme Court denied this petition for review, making the Court of Appeal decision that state wage law is not preempted by the federal ‘seaman’s exemption’ for tugboat employees working within California waters final.

Papers used by a Sacramento Wage Claim Lawyer

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