Outten & Golden LLP: Royal Caribbean Agrees to Entry of Judgment in Disability Discrimination Case

July 12, 2021

Opera singer Samuel Schultz announced today that his lawsuit against Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (“Royal Caribbean”) has ended with Royal Caribbean agreeing to pay him $300,000 plus attorneys’ fees, and to have the Court enter judgment in his favor and against Royal Caribbean, according to Outten & Golden LLP and Scott, Wagner and Associates P.A.

Mr. Schultz had alleged that Royal Caribbean violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Florida Civil Rights Act when it withdrew its offer to hire him to perform as an opera singer on board one of its cruise ships based upon his history of depression. Mr. Schultz, for many years in full remission, alleged that he was fully qualified and that Royal Caribbean’s decision was based on faulty and stereotyped beliefs illegal under federal and state law. Despite the fact that Royal Caribbean’s operations are largely in the United States, and the hiring process took place entirely on American soil, Royal Caribbean claimed that American antidiscrimination law does not apply because Mr. Schultz’ work was to be onboard a foreign-flagged ship on the high seas. In an interim decision in 2020, the United States District Court hearing the case largely rejected Royal Caribbean’s argument.

Mr. Schultz expressed great satisfaction that the matter has been resolved in his favor and looks forward to Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines who operate and recruit in the United States obeying the federal and state laws that protect employees from discrimination.

Mr. Schultz is represented by Outten & Golden LLP and Scott, Wagner and Associates P.A.

Outten & Golden partner Kathleen Peratis, said, “This is a giant step in the right direction, pointing towards a future in which cruise lines that recruit, hire and operate in the United States are held accountable under United States antidiscrimination law.”

Scott, Wagner and Associates partner Lindsey Wagner said, “The Americans with Disabilities Act exists to ensure that harmful stereotypes do not prevent qualified people disabled or perceived to be so from getting a job. This outcome should assure the vulnerable that they have a voice that will be heard.”

During his Royal Caribbean application process in 2018, Mr. Schultz fully and truthfully disclosed that he had, many years before, attempted suicide following a rape. Mr. Schultz made his rape allegation public later that year, and it was the subject of widespread media attention, helping launch opera’s #MeToo moment. Criminal charges have been brought and are pending against the alleged rapists.

Mr. Schultz alleged that doctors selected by Royal Caribbean to perform Mr. Schultz’s medical evaluation had found him fit and fully able to perform all the duties of his prospective job so long as his own doctor provided medical clearance. Mr. Schultz’ own doctor, a highly experienced and board certified psychiatrist, provided the clearance. Nevertheless, according to Mr. Schultz’s complaint, Royal Caribbean’s chief medical consultant blocked the hiring of Mr. Schultz based upon incorrect and biased beliefs regarding depression, remission and suicide. This lawsuit ensued, filed in the federal district court for the Southern District of Florida.

The case is Samuel Schultz v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 18 Civ. 24023 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. 

About Outten & Golden LLP

Outten & Golden LLP focuses on advising and representing individuals in employment, partnership, and related workplace matters both domestically and internationally. The firm counsels individuals on employment and severance agreements; handles complex compensation and benefits issues (including bonuses, equity agreements, and partnership interests); and advises professionals (including doctors and lawyers) on contractual issues. It also represents employees with a wide variety of claims, including discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, disability, national origin, religion, and age, as well as retaliation, whistleblower, and contract claims. The firm handles class actions involving a wide range of employment issues, including economic exploitation, gender- and race-based discrimination, wage-and-hour violations, violations of the WARN Act, and other systemic workers’ rights issues.

Outten & Golden has nine practice groups: Executives & Professionals, Financial Services, Sexual Harassment & Sex Discrimination, Family Responsibilities & Disability Discrimination, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) Workplace Rights, Discrimination & Retaliation, Whistleblower Retaliation, Class & Collective Actions, and WARN Act. 

Outten & Golden has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

More information is available at www.outtengolden.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kathleen Peratis, Outten & Golden LLP, 646-265-9664.

SOURCE Outten & Golden LLP