Day rates are common in the oilfield industry. They also can violate federal and state overtime statutes. A federal court in San Antonio was recently faced with the decision of whether to certify a collective action filed against several oilfield companies. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff named his former employer Ensign U.S. Drilling (SW), Inc. as the sole Defendant, but he later amended his pleadings and added three additional Defendants—Ensign United States Drilling, Inc., Trinidad Drilling, LLC, and Trinidad Drilling LP—as joint employers. According to the plaintiff he worked as a rig manager and was paid a day rate with no overtime. The plaintiff later dropped the Ensign defendants and kept his claims against the Trinidad defendants.
The plaintiff then filed a motion to certify the class under Section 216 of the FLSA. Plaintiff asks the Court to certify the following class as a collective action:
All oilfield workers employed by Ensign U.S. Drilling (SW), Inc., Ensign United States Drilling, Inc., Trinidad Drilling LLC, and/or Trinidad Drilling, LP, anywhere in the United States, at any time from April 23, 2017 through the final disposition of this matter, and were paid a day rate but no overtime.
Because the Ensign defendants had been dropped, the Court only considered certification against the Trinidad defendants. The Court concluded that the class sought by the plaintiff was too broad, and instead limited it to all rig managers in Texas. As such, the Court ordered that the following class is conditionally certified:
All rig managers employed by Trinidad Drilling LLC, and/or Trinidad Drilling, LP, anywhere in Texas, at any time from September 14, 2017 through the final disposition of this matter, and were paid a day rate but no overtime.
The Court further ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding a proposed notice. This case demonstrates several things: (1) the plaintiff bears a fairly light burden in the first stage of certification under Section 216 of the FLSA; and (2) despite this light burden, Courts will limit the scope of the certified class when it is pled too broadly.
About the author: Josh Borsellino represents workers suing for unpaid overtime. Josh is not representing any parties in the lawsuit described in this article. If you have questions about unpaid overtime, contact an experienced overtime attorney today. Josh provides free consultations on overtime cases and can be reached at 817.908.9861.