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Common overtime issues in oilfield jobs

Oilfield jobs in Texas are a hot commodity right now.  More than a hundred thousand barrels of oil are produced every month in Texas, which requires hundreds of thousands of man hours each month in the oilfields.  This means that oilfield workers are in short supply for the amount of work needed from oil and gas companies, and oilfield workers are often required to work long hours, many more than forty per week.  Oil and gas workers frequently work long hours, sometimes reaching 100 or more hours in a single week due to mandatory overtime. The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) 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, in the oil and gas industry, overtime pay violations are very common. This post will discuss the most common issues facing those working oilfield jobs.  

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

In the oil and gas industry, the FLSA prohibits employers from withholding overtime pay from oilfield workers if they are classified as non-exempt.  Oilfield workers may be non-exempt, and entitled to overtime pay, regardless of whether they are paid a salary, hourly or a day rate.  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.” However, this is not true. Whether an oilfield worker is exempt from overtime pay and eligible for overtime pay is determined by the worker’s job duties and responsibilities, not his or her job title or how he or she is paid. 

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, which means 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 “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 the 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  experienced 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.  Being misclassified is the latest trend in the oil and gas industry when it comes to employers cheating their workers out of overtime pay.  Oil and gas producers and service providers will either 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 or hire workers directly and classify them as independent contractors. In this author’s experience, having represented hundreds of oilfield workers who have encountered this exact situation and 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 the oil and gas industry as well as oilfield jobs. 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 or a family member or friend are in the oil and gas industry and are working more than forty hours per week without receiving your 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.