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September 07, 2004
Labor Department Backs Low-Wage Worker

The Labor Department has filed a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of a low-wage worker the federal district court in Boston, Massachusetts, concluded was not entitled to overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The brief was filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

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The federal district court in Boston concluded that Megan McLaughlin, who worked as a deckhand with Boston Harbor Cruise Lines, Inc., was not entitled to overtime compensation because of a "seaman" exemption under the act. The department argued that its interpretation of the seaman exemption, which has been in effect for 65 years, required that to be exempt from overtime protection the employee must aid in the transportation or navigation of the vessel. McLaughlin alleged that she primarily performed duties such as taking passengers' tickets.

The department specifically requested that the case be remanded to the district court so that it can make further findings of fact and then apply the department's legal interpretation to those facts.

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