Maersk Line and the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association have been given until the end of May to respond to a lawsuit filed in New York related to the Midshipman X case, which alleges sexual assault while serving at sea. The ship’s former chief engineer, Filomeno Gaylan, is suing for at least $300,000 in damages after he was wrongly fired by the company because his union failed to fulfill its duty to investigate the engineer’s complaint. Gaylan claims that his wrongful dismissal was actually a “fake dismissal” by Maersk to avoid a government investigation into the shipping company’s lack of enforcement and harassment policies, and that Maersk tried to avoid a U.S. Coast Guard fine similar to the $10,000 paid in 2020 related to similar incidents on the Maersk Idaho. Gaylan is also suing for lost wages, lost benefits, emotional and physical distress, and expenses, and the lawsuit is estimated to result in no less than $300,000 worth of damages.
The Midshipman X case involves an alleged sexual assault on a midshipman from the US Merchant Marine Academy on board a ship operated by Maersk Line. The shipping company later settled out-of-court lawsuits from passengers who claimed they were molested during their time aboard the same vessel. In Gaylan’s lawsuit, he alleges that he was not drinking alcohol at the time due to taking medication and that he ordered the gathering to end and everyone to return to their cabins as he heard loud voices and inappropriate actions. After the company suspended Gaylan and opened an investigation, Maersk informed him that he had been terminated with cause, but Gaylan alleges that Maersk failed to identify a specific valid basis for his termination. The two Midshipman cases continue to impact the industry, and MARAD has reviewed the Sea Year program.
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