Employers who fail to pay their employees overtime pay are in violation of the federal law that governs overtime pay, known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Employees that are not paid properly can file a collective action to recover back wages. A collective action lawsuit allows a group of workers who have suffered similar injuries to come together and file a lawsuit in a single court action. Essentially, the action allows all the workers join together and pursue their recovery in a single lawsuit, rather than requiring each worker to sue individually. Federal law requires that employers pay their employees overtime for any hours worked in a workweek over 40 hours. Employers must pay this overtime compensation at a rate of not less than one and a half times the employees regular rate of pay.
In Olibas v. Native Oilfield Services, LLC, et al, Case No. 3:11-cv-02388-B (U.S. Dist. Ct., Tex. 2015), the Plaintiffs, which include current and former oilfield fracking operations truck drivers, filed a collective action alleging that the Defendants violated the FLSA by not properly compensating them for their overtime work. Specifically, the Plaintiffs claimed that they were not paid for their off-the-clock overtime hours. The Defendants argued that the Plaintiffs were exempt from the FLSA’s overtime provisions and even if the Plaintiffs were not exempt, they could not carry their burden of showing that they were not paid overtime. The Defendants claimed that the hours the Plaintiffs sought were not hours actually worked, but rather were non-compensable wait times.
At trial, the jury heard testimony that the Plaintiffs were not paid for all the hours they worked. Additionally, testimony was heard that along with not being able to clock in for pay purposes when the Plaintiffs reported to work at their scheduled start time, but also that the Plaintiffs were not paid when they were waiting at oilfield well sites waiting for their trucks and equipment.
The jury found that the Defendants failed to pay each Plaintiff one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The federal jury’s verdict held that Defendants Native Oilfield Services and Mr. Barclay willfully violated the FLSA overtime wage provisions. The jury awarded the approximate 104 truck driver collective members 18 unpaid overtime hours per week over a several year period of time. In 2015, a United States District Judge issued an order saying that the Defendants owed a group of plaintiffs more than $3.7 million in damages for violations of the FLSA. Olibas, Case No. 3:11-cv-02388-B.
This case highlights that oilfield workers that are denied overtime pay can be entitled to significant damages. Have you and other workers been denied pay for all hours worked over 40? If so, you may have an unpaid overtime claim against your employer, which could be filed as a collective action on behalf of yourself and other current or former co-workers. Consider speaking with an experienced overtime attorney. Josh Borsellino is an experienced overtime attorney that fights for the rights of workers who have been denied their rightful pay. Josh offers free consultations and works on a contingency basis, meaning that you owe nothing unless there is a recovery. He can be reached at 817.908.9861 or 432.242.7118.