Under federal law, employers must pay employees overtime wages when they work more than 40 hours a week unless their position is covered by an exemption established by law. Depending on their job duties, oil and gas industry employees may not fit under any overtime exemption. If the applicable exemptions do not apply, oil and gas workers are entitled to overtime.
An employee may assert his rights to overtime through either the Department of Labor investigation or a private attorney. Hiring an attorney usually allows for quicker and greater recovery due to the potential of obtaining liquidated (double) damages from your employer.
Over the past year, oil & gas companies have been exposed for a multitude of high profile Fair Labor Standards Act violations. In September 2015, oilfield giant Halliburton agreed to pay oilfield workers 18.3 million dollars in back wages to more than 1,000 workers for unpaid overtime.
Private attorneys have also taken on the oil and gas industry. One such attorney, Jack Siegel of the Siegel Law Group in Dallas, Texas, indicates that he has already favorably settled three cases against oil and gas companies and has four more lawsuits against industry leaders such as Nine Energy, Sprint Energy and Schlumberger currently being litigated in federal court.
Mr. Siegel provides the following information to educate oil and gas industry workers about their overtime rights. Here are the top 10 reasons for oilfield overtime lawsuits based on his experience in the industry:
Paying Day Rate with Not Overtime. If your employer only pays you a day rate or day rate plus salary, you likely are owed overtime for all hours you work in excess of 40 in a week.
Paying Only Straight Time and No Overtime. If you receive only straight time (same hourly rate) for the hours you work over 40 in a week, you are not being paid overtime. You should be receiving 1.5 times more for your overtime hours.
Receiving “Comp” Time Instead of Overtime. If you are work for a private, non-government oilfield company, your employer cannot pay you “comp” time instead of overtime.
Paying Overtime Incorrectly. All wages, including non-discretionary day or weekly bonuses, must be included when your employer calculates your overtime. Oilfield employers commonly fail to include bonuses in determining your overtime rates to commit oilfield wage theft.
Manager Misclassification aka Calling You a Manager to Cheat You from Overtime. Employers also call people “managers” or “supervisors” to avoid paying overtime. This does not change the fact that many alleged “managers” or “supervisors” are non-exempt employees due overtime under federal law. If you spend the majority of your time on something else than supervising employees, your employer has likely misclassified you to get out of paying overtime.
Not Paying for On-Call or Standby Time. If your employer forces you to be on “standby” and you cannot do anything else during your standby time, your oilfield employer should be paying you wages and overtime for that time.
“Off-the-Clock” Work. If you are asked not to record all of your hours or are asked to clock out before completing work, your employer is violating your overtime rights. You should be paid for all the time in which your employer suffers or permits you to work. Your employer may not just turn their back to this work in order to avoid payments.
Forced Work During Rest & Meal Breaks. When your rest or meal break is not totally uninterrupted, your employer must compensate you for it. Period.
Non-Payment of Travel Time Other than Work Commutes. Your employer does not have to pay you for the time your spend commuting between home and work. However, if you are required to travel overnight or between work sites during your shift, you should be compensated for your time.
Mr. Siegel invites you to visit his law firm’s website at www.4overtimelawyer.com for more information about oilfield overtime violations and lawsuits.