Today, many conflicts are resolved through alternative methods to court proceedings. Unfortunately, most of the crew member contracts today have an arbitration clause in them.
An arbitration clause requires the parties to arbitrate any disputes arising under the contract. The contract may specify the number of arbitrators (usually one or three) and who they will be. It may also specify where the arbitration will take place. Courts regularly enforce arbitration clauses unless they are the result of overreaching by one party.
There are two types of arbitration, non-binding and binding. The parties to non-binding arbitration have recourse to other dispute resolution methods if they are unsatisfied with the award. The parties to binding arbitration have no solution if you are unsatisfied with the award except under very limited circumstances.
In an arbitration, you also don’t have a Judge. Usually arbitrators are retired judges, lawyers or professors. These arbitrators will decide the factual and legal issues after the presentation of evidence in accordance with the governing arbitration rules.
Because your employment contract has this arbitration clause, more than likely you will not be able to litigate this case in court and in front of a jury.
This arbitration clause is of benefit only to the cruise ship company, as it there are lesser cost than litigation, there are higher fees that many crew members can’t afford and the awards are confidential.
You need an attorney that has experience in this field. Contact us now so that we may assist you during this difficult time.