Labor Law -- 2018

Newton v. Parker Drilling Management Services, Inc.   (9th Circuit)

Applicability of state employment laws on the outer continental shelf

This case involves a motion for en banc review of a decision by a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that held that workers employed on drilling platforms on the outer continental shelf (OCS) may bring claims under state wage and hour laws. In so holding, the Ninth Circuit expressly rejected the Fifth Circuit's contrary approach applying federal law and created a circuit split concerning the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act's (OCSLA) choice-of-law provision. The panel's holding not only sharply departs from the settled expectations of both employers and employees working on OCS platforms, it also creates hundreds of millions of dollars of potential retroactive liability for employers and invites lawsuits in an area long understood to be under exclusive federal authority.

The defendant company seeks rehearing en banc by the full Ninth Circuit. The NAM filed a coalition amicus brief in support of rehearing en banc. Our brief argues that the panel opinion disrupts existing employer-employee relationships formed in reliance on longstanding interpretations of OCSLA, and that the decision improperly elevates state law to supremacy over federal law, conflicting with congressional intent and inviting states to frustrate offshore oil and natural gas development.

On April 27, 2018, the court denied the petition for rehearing en banc. However, the Court issued a stay on the mandate that allows OCS platform workers to bring claims under state law pending the filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (April 2, 2018)


© 2019 National Association of Manufacturers