3 ways oilfield workers are cheated by their employers

Oilfield jobs in Texas are a hot commodity right now.  Oil and gas companies have a great deal of work, and oilfield workers are in short supply.  This means that oilfield workers are often required to work long hours, sometimes reaching 100 or more hours in a single week due to mandatory overtime. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that non-exempt employees be paid time and a half for overtime, which is defined as any hours worked over 40 per week.  Unfortunately, overtime pay violations in the oil and gas industry are very common. This post will discuss the most common issues facing those working oilfield jobs.  

Common Issue #1: Being Misclassified as Exempt and Paid a Salary

The FLSA prohibits employers in the oil and gas industry from withholding overtime pay from oilfield workers if they are (or should be) classified as non-exempt.  Oilfield workers may be non-exempt, and entitled to overtime pay, regardless of whether they are paid hourly, on a day rate or a salary.  Some oil and gas companies tell their employees that they are exempt from overtime pay if they are paid a salary or because they are given an important-sounding title like “engineer” or “manager.”  This is not true.  Whether an oilfield worker is exempt from overtime pay has nothing to do with his or her job title or how he or she is paid.  Instead, eligibility for overtime pay is determined by the worker’s job duties and responsibilities.  

If you work in an oilfield job, you should not assume you are exempt from overtime pay based on your job title or because you are paid a salary.

Common Issue # 2: Being Paid a Day Rate

Oilfield workers also face overtime issues involving their method of payment.  Many oil and gas companies pay their oilfield workers using a “day-rate” method, meaning employees are paid a flat amount for each day worked, regardless of how many hours worked in the day. This method of payment is allowed, but the company must still pay its employees one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for each hour worked above forty in a week.  The same is true for oil and gas companies that pay their oilfield employees “straight time,” meaning the employees are paid the same hourly rate for every hour worked.  If the oil and gas company does not pay one-and-a-half times the employee’s hourly rate and the employee is not exempt under the FLSA, a lawsuit may be filed to recover unpaid overtime.  

If you were paid a day rate while working in the oilfields, you probably can recover overtime pay, and you should talk to an overtime attorney to learn of your legal rights.  

Common Issue # 3: Being Classified as an Independent Contractor

Another issue facing oilfield workers is being misclassified as an independent contractor.  This is the latest trend in the oil and gas industry when it comes to cheating their workers out of overtime pay.  Oil and gas producers and service providers will either hire workers directly and classify them as independent contractors or use a “consulting firm” which hires the workers and contracts them out to the oil and gas companies, and pays the workers a day rate or a flat hourly rate.  In this author’s experience, having represented hundreds of oilfield workers who have been classified as independent contractors, this method of paying oilfield workers is almost always an overtime violation.  

If you are or have been classified as an independent contractor while working for an oil and gas company, it is a near certainty that you have a claim for unpaid overtime.

These problems are common in oilfield jobs and in the oil and gas industry.  There is no doubt that many oilfield workers working for oil and gas companies in the Permian Basin, Barnett, Eagle Ford and Haynesville shale formations, and across Texas, are being shorted on overtime pay right now.     

If you are in the oil and gas industry and are working more than forty hours per week without receiving overtime pay, you may be entitled to a significant amount in unpaid overtime, and an equal amount in liquidated damages.  If you work in an oilfield job or in the oil and gas industry, and you feel that your employer owes you unpaid overtime, or if you have questions regarding overtime pay, call the Law Firm of Josh Borsellino for a free consultation.  The federal overtime laws only allow a worker to recover the past three years of overtime pay, so workers should move quickly if they believe they may be owed overtime.  For more information, visit our website, www.oilfieldovertime.com and www.dfwcounsel.com.  Call Josh Borsellino at 817.908.9861 or 432.242.7118 or complete this form for a free consultation. 

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