The Offshore Workers’ Legal Line (OWLL) is a free and confidential legal hotline for Gulf of Mexico offshore workers. OWLL offers offshore workers easy access to critical legal support in moments of ambiguity. The hotline provides guidance on disaster preparedness, workplace safety compliance, legal rights, workers' compensation, and other offshore work-related concerns. OWLL is a collaboration between Emergency Legal Responders and True Transition, two organizations committed to safeguarding the rights, safety, and resilience of offshore energy workers who often face unique legal challenges in their industry, particularly during disasters.
How do I contact OWLL?
Offshore workers can call the hotline (844-212-5447), open from 10 am-2 pm CST on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to speak with an experienced attorney who can provide timely guidance and advice in response. Additionally, you can submit your legal questions via an online form, request a callback, or receive an email response. Messages left on the hotline will be returned within 24 hours.
Why is the hotline needed?
Offshore workers face many uncertainties and challenges that can put individuals, communities, and the environment at risk. When oil and gas companies are faced with pressure to do more with less, offshore workers can be forced into dangerous situations that can have catastrophic consequences, such as oil spills, chemical leaks, fires, explosions, personal injury, and loss of life. Research demonstrates that workers often avoid reporting safety violations for fear of personal blame or legal repercussions. A recent survey of 1,600 American oil and gas workers by True Transition revealed troubling attitudes towards safety: just under half of survey respondents believe that their company’s safety program was explicitly or implicitly designed to shift the liability of an accident onto the worker. As a consequence, 37% of Gulf Coast workers said they would hesitate to raise safety concerns, and 38% reported previously being instructed to engage in unsafe practices contrary to established protocols.
Who can call the hotline?
Any offshore oil and gas worker in the Gulf of Mexico can call or email the hotline for free and confidential assistance. If you are a friend or family member of an offshore worker with questions, you can also contact OWLL. Whether you are on a foreign-flagged vessel or a platform owned by a transnational company, OWLL attorneys will be available to answer your questions and provide you with the knowledge to keep you and your team safe.
What happens to my complaint when I call the hotline?
Your call will be answered by an OWLL attorney who will ask questions and listen. If applicable, the OWLL attorney will provide legal information and advice. Your complaint will be filed within an internal secure system. We will ask for your contact information, but not for personal, identifying information (unless you choose to provide it). Additional follow-up can be continued via email.
Will you be able to trace my identity?
Disclosure of personal information is not required to receive free legal guidance. If you wish to submit a question via the online form, any disclosure of information is voluntary and not required to receive free legal advice. If you do not want to use your personal email, we recommend that you "hide your email," and review this guide to determine which method would best suit your needs. No email or personally identifiable information will be shared outside workers supporting this legal line.
I am not being paid for overtime, can the hotline help me?
Because there is such a variance in how workers are paid, from salary to hourly wages, many workers do not understand if and when they are eligible for overtime pay, and corporations end up taking advantage of this gray area. By calling the hotline, we can help you understand if you qualify for overtime, and how to make your case. Not being paid for overtime is not just about the money. Working long hours can lead to dangerous and unhealthy settings due to stress, overtiredness, and unhealthy conditions. When an accident happens in an overtime setting, the blame is often placed on the individual who can face legal repercussions. Our survey of 1,600 oil and gas workers found that many are forced to work longer hours without being paid overtime, with no place to report violations.
How can the hotline help me after a disaster, accident, or workplace injury?
You can call the hotline anytime and leave a message and someone will get back to you within 24 hours. After a crisis, the many things to do can be overwhelming. However, the decisions you make after a disaster, accident, or workplace injury can have long-term repercussions. It’s important to understand that an injury or trauma that you (or your family member) think they can just “power through”, or seems like “no big deal”, can end up having years of lasting health effects. By contacting the hotline, we will help you make informed decisions so that you understand your rights about returning to the workplace, are aware of resources and deadlines for filing claims, and can access free legal resources and non-predatory attorneys.
How does the hotline relate to existing safety and alert systems?
If you are facing an urgent safety situation with a potential for loss of life, serious injury, or environmental catastrophe, the hotline has developed protocols to alert the relevant state and federal authorities. The OWLL hotline is an independent nonprofit that is not affiliated with any government agency. That means that it can act as an intermediary between workers and regulators to ensure swift action and anonymity, such as relating to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Research has identified that a lack of trust in institutions by offshore workers prevents them from utilizing existing support mechanisms, and has identified a need for an anonymous intermediary independent from the oil industry.
Who are the partners and supporters of the hotline?
Emergency Legal Responders is a New Orleans-based disaster legal advocacy organization that believes everyone deserves disaster relief and support. ELR is on the front lines, advocating for all people impacted by natural, social, and economic crises. ELR does this through free and accessible legal information, free community legal clinics, and customized legal training for social service providers. ELR provides services to all disaster survivors, focusing on the need to achieve community resilience and more equitable disaster recovery efforts.
True Transition is a public policy collaborative working to secure a seat at the table for energy workers to create the jobs and conditions for the energy transition. True Transition identifies where oil and gas workers' skills are most needed, and writes the policies to make those jobs and laws a reality. True Transition is working to ensure that workers can seamlessly transition into emerging fields with full interim support and training, and for future energy jobs that pay well and support American families and communities.