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New Mexico court certifies oilfield overtime case

A federal judge in New Mexico has granted conditional certification in a case filed by oilfield workers.  An oilfield worker filed suit against K. Allred Oilfield Services, LLC and its owner, alleging that they misclassified certain workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them overtime wages as required under state and federal law.  The plaintiff asked the Court to certify a the following class under the FLSA: Current and former workers employed by, or working on behalf of, K. Allred Oilfield Services, LLC as independent contractors in the United States at any time from “3 years prior to date of certification,” to the present, who were paid a day rate. The Defendants argued that the plaintiff did not meet his burden for certification, asserting that his declaration was speculative and that he did not establish a company-wide policy of misclassification or that there was a class of similarly situated workers.   The Court rejected these arguments, finding that the Plaintiff had met “the requirements for the first stage of collective action certification because they contain substantial allegations that Plaintiff, and individuals who share similar job duties, were subject to the same illegal wage policy.” The Court also refused to limit the proposed class to the two project sites where the plaintiff worked, finding that evidence showed “that other flowback operators classified as independent contractors are paid a day rate without regard to hours worked and without overtime.”  The Court also found that the defendants’ “use of day rates extended well beyond” the two worksites where plaintiff worked.  Lastly, the Court overruled several of the defendants’ objections to the proposed certification notice, finding that notice via text message were permissible, that telephone contact was allowed for class members whose mailing address and email address were shown to be incorrect or otherwise invalid, and that the Plaintiff’s counsel could send the notice and that the notice should exclude the defendants’ counsel’s contact information.  The Court ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding several outstanding issues.  

This case illustrates that courts will typically conditionally certify overtime collective actions when the plaintiff can show that there are other workers who were paid the same way, and that such payment scheme may have violated federal overtime laws.  

About the author: Josh Borsellino is a Texas attorney that represents workers on claims for unpaid overtime.  If you have been denied overtime pay within the past three years, you should speak with an overtime attorney as soon as possible to learn of your legal rights.  For a free evaluation of your overtime questions, contact Josh Borsellino today at 817.908.9861 or email him by clicking on this link.  

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