United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
DARNELL SENEGAL, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated Plaintiff,
FAIRFIELD INDUSTRIES, INC., d/b/a FAIRFIELD NODAL, Defendant.
before the court is Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings as to Section 13(a)(12) Seaman Exemption (Doc.
276). The court has considered the motion, the responses, all
other relevant filings, and the applicable law. For the
reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS
the motion in part and DENIES it in part.
filed this action against Defendant under the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”). Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant violated the FLSA by failing to pay Plaintiff
and other similarly situated employees (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) their statutorily required overtime
A lengthier discussion of the case's background can be
found in the court's November 21, 2018 Memorandum
present motion, Plaintiffs seek to prevent Defendant from
using the exemption to the FLSA's coverage found in 29
U.S.C. 213(a)(12) (“Section 213(a)(12)”). Section
213(a)(12) provides that “any employee employed as a
seaman on a vessel other than an American vessel” is
exempt from coverage under the FLSA. Id.
has represented to the court that it is not relying on a
defense under Section 213(a)(12). Accordingly, at trial,
Defendant may not rely on a Section 213(a)(12) defense.
However, the parties' pleadings have indicated that the
real issue is not Section 213(a)(12), but rather the
court's holding regarding 29 U.S.C. §
213(f)(“Section 213(f)”). Thus, the court will clarify
its November 21, 2018 Memorandum Opinion as it pertains to
to Section 213(f), the FLSA does not apply “to any
employee whose services during the workweek are performed in
a workplace within a foreign country or within territory
under the jurisdiction of the United States . . .
.” At the summary judgment stage, it was
Defendant's position that Section 213(f) exempts any
plaintiff from the FLSA who worked on a vessel overseas
regardless of whether the vessel was American or
foreign-flagged.It was Plaintiff's position that
Section 213(f) does not apply to work aboard vessels at
Memorandum Opinion, the court found the reasoning in
Kaluom v. Stolt Offshore, Inc. persuasive. 474
F.Supp.2d 866 (S.D. Tex. 2007). The Kaluom court
held that Section 213(f) does not apply to vessels or seamen,
but rather, applies to specific geographic locations. See
id. at 879-880. The court agrees with this holding.
Thus, Section 213(f) does not apply to the plaintiffs in the
present action because they worked aboard vessels. However,
this does not mean, as Plaintiffs argue, that the Plaintiffs
are automatically covered by the FLSA just because they
worked aboard vessels.
the presumption against extraterritorial application, it is
well settled that “[a]bsent clearly expressed
congressional intent to the contrary, federal laws will be
construed to have only domestic application.” RJR
Nabisco, Inc. v. European Cmty., 136 S.Ct. 2090, 2100
has presented evidence that some Plaintiffs may have worked
aboard foreign-flagged vessels in foreign waters for some or
all of the relevant period. To apply the FLSA to
Plaintiffs during periods where they worked on
foreign-flagged vessels in foreign waters would be to apply
the FLSA non-domestically. The FLSA is devoid of any
congressional intent that it be applied to workers aboard
foreign-flagged vessels in foreign waters.
while Defendant is precluded from arguing that Plaintiffs are
exempt from the FLSA under Section 213(f), Plaintiffs still
must prove that they are covered by the FLSA. For any
workweek where a Plaintiff worked exclusively aboard a
foreign-flagged vessel in foreign waters, that Plaintiff is
not covered by the FLSA for that workweek. See Goodly v.
Check-6, Inc., Civ. Act. No. 16-CV-334-GKF-JFJ, 2018 WL
5316356, at *4-5 (N.D. Okla. Oct. 26, 2018)(holding that the
FLSA did not “apply to workweeks in which the
plaintiffs performed all work exclusively aboard
foreign-flagged vessels outside U.S. territorial waters and
outside the Gulf of Mexico”).
reasons set out above Plaintiff's motion is
GRANTED in part and DENIED
 The parties consented to proceed
before the undersigned magistrate judge for all proceedings,
including trial and final judgment, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73.