A discrimination case for a Hispanic crewman aboard an Alaska fishing vessel has settled 1.85 million dollars. The settlement stems from allegations of discriminatory conduct and harassment, which occurred aboard the Alaska long line vessel Ocean Prowler in 2011. 37 year old crewman and fish processor Francisco Miranada claimed the captain and mate of the Ocean Prowler targeted Mexican crewman for harassment, calling them dirty Mexicans and other racial epithets. Miranda was told he should swim back to Mexico. Miranda was born in the United States and is a United States Citizen.
The threats recounted to Miranda are familiar threats to lawyers who represent injured Alaska fisherman. Miranda was threatened that if he quit during the fishing trip they would not be paid. There are no unions to protect your job on a commercial fishing vessel. If you object to unsafe working conditions or improper treatment, crewmen quickly find themselves out of work.
Alaska commercial fishing vessels are crewed by workers with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The jobs in many cases are jobs of last resort for untrained workers who have limited education and English language skills. Higher paying jobs are highly sought after by crewman. Sadly the commercial fishing industry continues to brew a toxic discriminatory environment where fear of retaliation causes much harassment and discriminatory conduct to go unreported.
The indifference and callous treatment of Hispanic crewman aboard the Ocean Prowler was evidence by other actions in this case. When another Hispanic crewman died during the voyage, the captain of the vessel duct tapped the deceased crewman into a survival suit and left his body on deck to freeze.
At the time of this incident Alaska Longline owned the Ocean Prowler. In 2016 Blue North Fisheries merged with Prowler Fisheries – the parent company for Alaska Longline. The company’s new attorneys have announced that the employees that were involved in harassing Miranada have been fired. Alaska Longline has now offered their apologies’ to Miranda and have reportedly instituted employee training to prevent such illegal and improper conduct in the future.
We offer our congratulations to Washington discrimination lawyer Scott Blankenship who represented Miranda in this claim. Miranda’s heroic resolve to see his case through and hold the owners of the Ocean Prowler responsible for illegal conduct will be a building block to eliminate discrimination aboard Alaska fishing vessels in the future.