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May 23rd, 2013

Gulf of Mexico Offshore Fire Spotlights Miserable Working Conditions for Foreign Workers

The two crew members, who lost their lives in a deadly fire that raged through a Black Elk Energy-operated offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month, were Filipino nationals. The incident has spotlighted the poor working conditions facing foreign workers of the company. In fact, Black Elk Energy is currently facing charges of abusive work conditions, in a lawsuit filed by Filipinos.

At least one of the 4 workers who were critically injured in the Black Elk Energy fire is also believed to be a Filipino national. He’s now recovering from his injuries.

What the Black Elk Energy fire has done is spotlight the conditions facing foreign workers who work in offshore oil and gas drilling jobs in the United States. According to the Philippines Embassy, there are more than 150 offshore workers currently working in the Gulf of Mexico. These include pipefitters, riggers, welders and scaffolders.

Black Elk Energy is the subject of a lawsuit filed by at least 20 former employees of the company. All of them are Filipinos, and in their lawsuit, they accuse Black Elk Energy of shoddy workplace treatment. According to the lawsuit, Black Elk workers are given horrible working and living conditions, and are required to pay thousands of dollars to live in tiny shack-like rooms. The workers are required to pay up to $3,000 per person to live in such miserable conditions. The company denies these claims.

One of the bigger misconceptions about the Jones Act is that it applies only to American workers. Foreign workers on offshore rigs and platforms may also fulfill the criteria for a Jones Act seaman, and qualify under the Jones Act.

The Houston Jones Act lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  represent injured foreign workers who work in offshore oil and gas drilling rigs and platforms, helping them recover compensation for their injuries.

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