According to information from PACER, the federal court filing database, cases filed in the Western District of Texas under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the federal statute that governs overtime pay) are up roughly 20% this year. From January 1, 2020 until September 11, 2020 (the date this article is written), there have been 207 cases filed in the Western District of Texas under the FLSA. That is up from 174 cases filed under the FLSA in the WDTX during the same time period in 2019, and much higher than the 140 cases filed during the same timeframe in 2018.
It is this author’s belief that there are two primary reasons for this. First, there are still many oil and gas companies that are paying day rates, salaries and straight time and/or misclassifying their workers as independent contractors and denying them overtime pay. Second, the COVID pandemic has caused many employees to be laid off, and whenever mass layoffs occur, FLSA filings increase, as workers look to recoup their lost wages. These two factors are related, as the Western District of Texas encompasses both the Eagle Ford Shale and the Permian Basin, two of the largest oil and gas formations in the U.S., and thus is the forum for many oil and gas workers. The COVID crisis and the Saudi-Russian price war caused a collapse in oil prices, which led to mass layoffs in the oil and gas sector. Thus, many oilfield workers have been out of work this year and have proceeded with filing suit for past overtime pay against their former employers.
About the author: Josh Borsellino is a Texas attorney that focuses on representing oil and gas workers for overtime pay. If you have questions about whether you are owed overtime, call Josh at 817.908.9861 for a free evaluation.