Gulfshore clean-up worker claims harassment and benzene exposure

By Michelle Keahey | Feb 5, 2013

A captain of a vessel assigned to clean-up the oil spill in the Gulf has filed a lawsuit claiming she was subjected to a hostile work environment and exposed to benzene.

E. Darlene Morgan-Hudson filed suit against Cal Dive International Inc. in federal court of New Orleans.

Morgan-Hudson was working for the defendants from December 2009 through July 24, 2011 as a master of various vessels. She claims she was subjected to a hostile and unsafe work environment while being “battered, harassed, intimidated, and threatened.”

The plaintiff claims she was called offensive names by co-workers, received reports that crew members would not work with her because of her gender, was isolated and ostracized at safety meetings because of her gender, was advised that she was inadequate and incapable of performing her duties as master because of her gender and was physically and psychologically battered by a co-employee.

In addition to the hostile work environment, in April 2010, Morgan-Hudson claims that she was required to captain the M/V American Fox into the oilfield and spread dispersants without the proper safety equipment for protection from benzene exposure. In June 2011, she became sick as a result of the harassment and exposure to the dispersants.

Morgan-Hudson claims she has been deemed medically “unfit” for return to offshore work as a Master in the Maritime.

The defendant is accused of negligence for failing to appropriately address, investigate and correct or act upon repeated complaints of sexual harassment and battery, negligence for failing to establish anti-sexual harassment protocol and for the negligence and unseaworthiness of the vessel.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for loss of earning capacity, physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, interest, and court costs.

Morgan-Hudson is represented by Stephen M. Kepper, Bobby J. Delise and Alton J. Hall, Jr. of Delise & Hall in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Martin L. C. Feldman is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-02985

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