Not paying a vessel's crew his or her wages is a lot different than, say, not paying someone who does work on your house. That is, an unpaid crew member has unique remedies available under the maritime law. Whether the crewmember worked aboard vessels in Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey or Florida, it doesn't matter. The unpaid crewmember's remedies arise under the United States admiralty law.
Typically, an unpaid crewmember has a lien against the vessel in the amount of his or her wages. In addition, an unpaid crewmember has the benefit of a specific federal statute which, if applicable, may allow the crewmember to recover penalties over and above the unpaid wages.
The specific remedies available to an unpaid crewmember vary depending upon, among other things, the type of vessel on which the crewmember was serving. If you are a crewmember and haven't been paid, contact an admiralty attorney to discuss your rights.
Underway and making way.
By John Fulweiler