There were 181 FLSA cases filed in the Western District of Texas in 2021. That is a ten percent drop from the 201 cases filed under the FLSA in the WDTX in 2020, but still up from 174 cases filed in 2019, and much higher than the 140 cases filed during the same timeframe in 2018. It is this author’s opinion that this is due to 2021 being a mixed bag. On one hand, there are still many companies that are paying day rates, straight time and committing other violations of the FLSA – it is telling that the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Texas Oil and Gas Association – two of the largest lobbying groups for oil and gas companies – both filed amicus briefs with the 5th Circuit, unsuccessfully arguing that day rates should be legal – because so many of their members are paying their workers this way. In addition, plaintiffs in this area received a positive ruling when the 5th Circuit ruled in the Hewitt v. Helix case that day rates do not constitute a salary, meaning many oilfield workers who are paid day rates may qualify for overtime pay. These two factors drove FLSA filings this year. On the down side, layoffs in the oilfield industry have stabilized in 2021 – the big cuts were in 2020 with the massive drop in oil prices caused by the Saudi-Russian price war and the reduction in demand due to the COVID pandemic. With fewer workers laid off, fewer of them were willing to file suit, thus the lower numbers than the year before.
The price of oil spiked considerably in 2021, meaning more workers were being hired in the industry, a trend which will likely continue in 2022. With the positive growth expected to continue in 2022, it is important that oilfield companies continue to comply with federal law. Specifically, with the amount of rigs continuing to increase, more oilfield workers will be tasked with working longer hours. If a worker works longer than 40 hours per week, he or she is generally required to be paid overtime at a rate of time and a half for all hours worked over 40.
If you are an oilfield worker who has worked over 40 hours per week and has not been paid overtime, talk to an experienced wage and hour attorney as soon as possible to learn of your legal rights. Josh Borsellino is an experienced FLSA attorney that understands state and federal overtime laws. He regularly filed overtime cases in Midland, Odessa, San Antonio, Pecos and across West and South Texas. He offers free consultations and can be reached at 817.908.9861 or 432.242.7118.