Maersk Line, Limited said it is looking into the lawsuits filed in the New York state court, alleging the company had failed to sufficiently protect U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) midshipmen from sexual assault and sexual harassment while working aboard Maersk ships as part of the USMMA’s “Sea Year” programme.

Maersk Line, Limited is the US-flag arm of A.P. Moller-Maersk that offers ocean transportation services to the US government.

“We just received this information on the pending lawsuits and we will now review the documents,” the company said in a statement.

Maersk Line, Limited said, “we have zero tolerance for assault, harassment or any form of discrimination on our vessels or in our company. We take all allegations of assault or harassment very seriously, and we remain committed to ensuring that the shipboard environment is safe, supportive and welcoming to all. As communicated to the entire Maersk and Maersk Line, Limited fleet, we will not tolerate any breach of our policies regarding the fair treatment of all personnel.”

“As a policy, we do not comment on pending litigation,” noted the company.

The two incidents allegedly took place onboard the Alliance Fairfax, an American-flagged car carrier, in which reports of rape and alcohol abuse were stated, initially by one of the plaintiffs who went by the moniker Midshipman-X before disclosing her identity as Hope Hicks.

“Maersk acknowledged that it owes a special duty of care to USMMA cadets, yet even after the Sea Year program was reinstated in 2017, Maersk failed to implement and enforce adequate policies and procedures to protect these young women,” said Steven Kelly, a partner at law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp, which is representing the plaintiffs.

Both complaints argue that Maersk was aware of the prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment on its fleet, implying a clear case of negligence and failure on its part to ensure a seaworthy working environment.

There have already been reports of sexual harassment at USMMA, including a high-profile case six years ago and a US$1.4 million settlement in 2020 for another victim.

Maersk this week said it has begun interviewing its more than 350 female seafarers after reports of another sexual harassment case broke in Danish media over the weekend.

Source : Container News