Collective action lawsuits often play an important role in unpaid overtime cases against oil and gas companies. When multiple oilfield workers have all suffered the same or similar injuries and want to recover, the best avenue to pursue legal action could be a collective action lawsuit. A collective action lawsuit is when a group of people with the same or similar injuries sue the defendant, usually the employer, as a group. If the court certifies the case as a collective action, it will order the company to turn over the names and addresses of every member of the class to the plaintiff’s counsel, who then sends notice of the suit to the class members and all class members are instructed of their right to join the suit.
In Fritchman et al., v. Schlumberger Tech Corp., No. 2:16-cv-01752-CRE (W.D. Pennsylvania, November 11, 2016), the plaintiffs who were oilfield specialists and/or field engineers brought a class action lawsuit against their employer, Schlumberger Technology Corp. for violations of the FLSA. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant forced them to work over 80 hours a week without paying them overtime. The plaintiffs performed a significant amount of manual labor, repeatedly expected to work 84 hour work weeks at 12 hour shifts for 7 days a week. The workers often worked longer than the 84 hour work weeks and were not paid overtime. In lieu of paying overtime, the defendant paid their employees a base salary plus a day rate. Given this exhausting schedule, many workers were forced to live at the oilfields for weeks at a time. Whether the employees worked the night or day shift, the workers had to work that schedule every day for 7 days.
The statute governing overtime pay is the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which requires employers to pay its employees at a rate of at least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked above forty in a workweek. Liquidated damages are also available to the oilfield workers, which are equal to the full value of the unpaid overtime amount. Attorney’s fees and costs are also paid to the oilfield worker if the oilfield worker wins.
The defendant ultimately denied the allegations but agreed to settle the claims. A settlement was ultimately reached with the defendant agreeing to pay $895,000 to the oilfield workers. The settlement is a stark reminder for all parties who want to resolve their claims without the added costs of further litigation. If you are an oilfield worker who has been denied overtime pay, consider speaking with an experienced overtime attorney. Josh Borsellino is an experienced FLSA overtime attorney who fights for the rights of workers. He offers free consultations and can be reached at 817.908.9861 or 432.242.7118. Call him today to see if you have a claim to recover your unpaid overtime wages.