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Labour judge tells Horizon Lines to pay sacked informer US$1 million

HORIZON Lines has been ordered to pay by a US Department of Labour Administrative Law judge more than US$1 million in damages to captain John Loftus who was sacked in 2013, after reporting safety violations on the ship on which he served.

Labour judge tells Horizon Lines to pay sacked informer US$1 million
27 July 2016 - 21:51

Labour judge tells Horizon Lines to pay sacked informer US$1 million
HORIZON Lines has been ordered to pay by a US Department of Labour Administrative Law judge more than US$1 million in damages to captain John Loftus who was sacked in 2013, after reporting safety violations on the ship on which he served.
The judge awarded the former employee, who had worked for the carrier for 20 years, $655,000 in back wages and interest, $225,000 in punitive damages, $10,000 for emotional distress and more than $200,000 in legal costs.
Mr Loftus served as ship master on a containership that sailed between New York, Jacksonville, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was abruptly removed from his post for reporting safety violations to the US Coast Guard and its delegated inspection agency, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), reported American Shipper.
"Captain Loftus was the most safety conscientious master in the entire Horizon Lines fleet" with "an unusually strong commitment to the safety of his vessel and crew," Judge Jonathan Calianos wrote in his 48-page decision.
When his attempts to alert Horizon Lines to safety hazards onboard the vessel were ignored, "Loftus resorted to reporting safety concerns to the regulatory agencies because of Horizon's consistent failure to correct hazardous conditions aboard the Trader. Loftus was clearly a thorn in Horizon's side."
The judge referred to the company's behaviour, specifically in disciplining Mr Loftus for legally informing authorities, as "reprehensible", and as such imposed penalties approaching the statutory maximum as a deterrent.

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