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4.03.2012

did bp discriminate against asian fishermen?

How many years has it been since BP's devastating Gulf Coast oil spill? And people living and working in the area still haven't fully recovered. Thanks, BP.

A new class action lawsuit alleges that the companies overseeing BP's oil spill cleanup program were instructed to avoid hiring Asian American fishermen: Asian-American Boat Owners Accuse BP of 'Despicable' Racism.

Although over half of all active commercial fishermen affected by the BP oil spill were of Vietnamese and Cambodian descent, the lawsuit alleges that less than ten percent of all the vessels hired for the "Vessels of Opportunity" program were owned by Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans:
The class claims that "the oil spill devastated the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico, causing suffering and financial burdens to hundreds of thousands of people, especially to commercial fishermen. Over half of all active commercial fishermen affected by the BP oil spill were Asians of the Vietnamese and Cambodian origin."

BP set up a Vessels of Opportunity (V.o.O) program, through which it hired the fishermen to use their boats in the clean-up. Boat-owners who signed up have filed numerous lawsuits against BP, claiming it did not live up to its promises, including paying them at all after putting them on call, or decontaminating their boats.

BP hired DRC Emergency Services and Danos and Curole Marine Contractors to manage the Vessels of Opportunity program, according to the class action.

The complaint states that "even though over half of all active commercial fishermen affected by the BP Oil Spill were Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans, less than 10 percent of all the vessels hired for the V.o.O program were owned by Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans. It is estimated that of the 5,000 marine vessels hired, only around 350 vessels belonged to Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans."

The class claims this was directly attributable to BP's discrimination.
According to the complaint, BP sent out email messages to contractors that "specifically demanded" they not hire vessels owned by Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans. That's racist!. Really, that's racist.

We're talking about thousands of people whose families and livelihoods were drastically affected by this disaster. And you're going to throw discrimination on top of that? Despicable. More here: Did BP Discriminate Against Asian Fishermen During Gulf Cleanup?

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