August 25, 2006

U.S. sues Norwegian Cruise Lines for discrimination

By Edgar Ang and Stefano Ambrogi

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Miami-based Norwegian Cruise
Line Inc. is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for racial discrimination in a
workplace, an EEOC official said on Friday.

EEOC filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the cruise line
(NCL) in a Honolulu federal court representing seven or more
Muslim employees of Middle Eastern descent who had worked
aboard the Pride of Aloha in July 2004.

Anna Park, an attorney at EEOC in Los Angeles, said the
workers were fired because they were deemed a security risk.

She said the EEOC had investigated the matter in the past
two years, and the suit was filed because it could not reach a
resolution with NCL.

EEOC is the plaintiff in the case representing the seven
people, but more ex-employees may come forward, Park said.

"We are in the discovery phase of the law suit right now.
NCL has not been served the papers yet," she said.

NCL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Star Cruises Ltd. SCL,
publicly listed in Hong Kong, is a core member of the Genting
Group and 36.1 percent owned by Resorts World, which is, in
turn, 57.7 percent owned by Genting Berhad.

Susan Robison, a spokeswoman for NCL, said in an e-mailed
statement on Friday that the cruise company was proud of its
employment practices and record, and that it did not
discriminate in hiring.

"Our employees come from a very broad range of ethnic and
religious backgrounds, which provides a wonderful diversity
among our staff," Robison said.

She said the firings were probationary period dismissals,
and NCL was confident that when the facts and circumstances
surrounding them came out at trial, its actions would be judged
to have been completely proper.

NCL operates 12 cruise ships, which represents about 9
percent of the overall cruise capacity in North America in
terms of berths.

By the end of 2007, the company's fleet size will increase
to 15.