The oilfield industry is awash with third party consulting firms that outsource workers to production and service companies. These consulting entities purportedly function as staffing companies and usually classify their workers as independent contractors and pay them a day rate or straight time, with no overtime pay. Not surprisingly, these companies, and the oil and gas companies that are their customers, are often sued for overtime violations under the FLSA and/or state law. In Hoeflein v. Crescent Drilling and Production Inc., a court in San Antonio recently conditionally certified a class of oilfield consultants. In their live pleading, the plaintiffs alleged that Crescent Drilling and Production and Crescent Drilling Foreman, were a joint enterprise that employed Plaintiffs as oilfield workers, misclassified them as independent contractors, and paid them a day rate with no overtime compensation. Crescent is an oilfield project management company providing staff to the oil and gas industry. The Plaintiffs asked the Court to certify the following class as a collective action:
All oilfield workers who provided services to or on behalf of Crescent Drilling & Production and/or Crescent Drilling Foreman during the past 3 years who were classified as independent contractors and paid on a day-rate basis with no overtime.
The Plaintiffs claimed that they were both classified as independent contractors and required to work 12 hours a day based on a day rate with no overtime compensation. They further argued that Defendants staffed and paid all oilfield workers in this way. One plaintiff worked with Pioneer Natural Resources as a Drilling Consultant, and the other was staffed to work with Sanchez Oil & Gas as a Lead Operator. The Defendants opposed the motion in part because Plaintiffs’ proposed class includes oilfield workers staffed to over 50 different customers, all of whom have different business practices that will be relevant to the question of whether Plaintiffs were properly classified as independent contractors. The Court held that the Plaintiffs established that a more limited class of oilfield workers is entitled to notice of this lawsuit, as Plaintiffs’ declarations establish that there is a class of similarly situated workers who are victim to a single pay policy. The Court thus certified the class, but limited the class to those workers staffed to Sanchez and Pioneer, where Plaintiffs worked.
About the author: Josh Borsellino is a Texas employment lawyer that represents oil and gas workers on claims for unpaid overtime. Josh has represented hundreds of oilfield workers, filing overtime cases in every federal district in Texas, as well as in New Mexico and elsewhere. Josh is not involved in the Hoeflein v. Crescent Drilling case. For a free consultation regarding your overtime matter, call Josh at 817.908.9861 or complete this form.