As news breaks of dozens of passenger lawsuits stacking up against cruise lines like Norwegian and Princess over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak, one cruise line’s employees would like their day in court as well. In a class-action estimated to be more than 10,000 members strong, crew members sailing aboard Celebrity Cruises’ ships have sued the corporation alleging a wide variety of failures that put them in extraordinary danger.
The lawsuit states that Celebrity’s actions have “resulted in hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases and what is more likely thousands given that there is limited testing being done on its vessels.”
As Celebrity’s ships continued sailing in the midst of a global health crisis that has brought the world’s economies to their knees, crew members aboard those ships were forced to function as if nothing was actually happening. According to the complaint brought in the Southern District of Florida, Celebrity failed to quarantine crew members or enforce even the most basic of social distancing requirements. The cruise line also failed to provide masks or other protective gear. Instead, crew members continued taking their meals in a buffet-type setting and were ordered to continue their participation in the ship’s ongoing safety and emergency drills. Crew parties were also allowed to continue with no intervention.
Previous lawsuits regarding the cruise industry’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic have focused on passenger illnesses and fatalities. Dozens of lawsuits alleging the negligence of cruise line giants like Norwegian and Princess claim that when the companies weren’t lying to prospective passengers to keep them from reconsidering their vacation plans, they were bringing people aboard ships that had already been contaminated by a virus that is well on its way to killing half a million people worldwide.
The crew members’ class-action represents one of the first attempts to hold the industry responsible for its treatment of its employees and follows in the footsteps of multiple employee lawsuits in other industries that claim that when it mattered the most, their employers saw them as expendable in the pursuit of further profits.