Court Rules Oil and Gas Worker Not Exempt from Overtime Pay

A federal court in San Antonio, Texas concluded that a Field Coordinator and Service Supervisor for an oil and gas services company was not exempt from overtime pay as a matter of law.  The employee alleged that he was improperly classified as a salaried employee and was wrongfully denied overtime pay.  The worker claimed to have averaged approximately 110 hours per week.  The oil and gas services company asserted that the worker was exempt from overtime pay under the executive exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA.  For the executive exemption to apply and thus not entitle a worker to overtime pay, the worker must be an employee:

1) Compensated on a salary basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week, exclusive of board, lodging or other facilities;

2) Whose primary duty is management of the enterprise in which the employee is employed or of a customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof;

3) Who customarily and regularly directs the work of two or more other employees; and

4) Who has the authority to hire or fire other employees or whose suggestions and recommendations as the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees are given particular weight.

29 C.F.R. § 541.100(a). The executive exemption is conjunctive, meaning that the employer who claims the exemption must meet all of these elements for the exemption to apply.  This exemption, like other exemptions under the FLSA, is narrowly construed against the employer seeking to assert it.  The San Antonio Court found that the first three elements were satisfied by the employer.  However, it found that there was conflicting evidence as to whether the worker’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion, or any other change of status of other employees were given particular weight. The Court concluded that “there is enough evidence to let a jury decide whether the fourth element of the executive exemption is met,” and thus denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment.  The case was styled Mohnacky v. FTS Int. Svcs., LLC, Civil Action No. SA-13-CV-246-XR (WDTX, Oct. 2, 2014).  According to public case files, approximately one month after the Court issued its ruling, the parties settled their dispute, and the case was dismissed shortly thereafter.

The takeaway from this case is that many oil and gas workers, even those who are paid a salary and told that they are not due overtime because they are exempt, may be entitled to overtime pay.  This applies to positions which purport to be managerial or supervisory in nature (including positions such as Field Coordinator, Service Supervisor, Project Manager, etc.).  If you have questions about unpaid overtime, visit with an experienced overtime attorney.  Overtime attorney Josh Borsellino represents workers in the oil and gas industry to get them the overtime pay they deserve.  Call 817.908.9861 or complete this contact form for a free evaluation of your overtime pay matter.

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