FLSA Employment in Oil and Gas industry Violation
Oil and Gas Industry Fair Labor Standard Act Violations
Our firm is pursuing class action lawsuits on behalf of workers, specifically oil and gas workers, who have been harmed due to violations of the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). Violations include unpaid overtime for day rate workers, such as oil and gas riggers and fracking workers.
Oil and gas workers who work more than 40 hours per week and who are paid on a day rate basis, but who do not receive overtime pay, may have important legal rights. In fact, numerous claims have been brought against oil and gas companies over alleged violations of federal overtime laws that involve failure to compensate their day rate employees for overtime hours worked.
Should a day rate worker choose to take legal action, his/her employer is legally prohibited from retaliation against that worker.
Day Rate Workers Compensation
Day rate workers are compensated with a flat, pre-determined rate for every day worked. Because the amount of time spent at a job site is often not considered, the pay given these workers for each day worked may be in violation of both federal and state labor laws should an employee work more that 40 hours per week and not receive overtime pay.
Oil and gas workers, which includes oil and gas riggers and fracking workers, may be able to recover unpaid overtime for up to three years by filing a class action lawsuit.
In recent years, oil and gas workers who have worked in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry have brought numerous class action lawsuits against employers to receive compensation for overtime hours for which they never received compensation. Allegations include that oil and gas companies have paid their day rate oil and gas riggers and fracking workers a flat day rate, but have often mandated these workers to work in excess of a 40-hour work week. Federal wage and hour law mandates that many oil and gas day rate workers receive time-and-a-half pay for time worked over 40 hours in any given work week. There are some exceptions to these federal requirements; however, exceptions are very restrictive and generally do not apply to oil and gas day rate workers.
Day Rate Gas and Oil Workers
Day rate gas and oil workers may include the following:
- Oil and gas riggers
- Fracking workers
- Directional Drillers
- Field coordinators and engineers
- Field office clerks
- Measurement and logging while drilling workers
- Pipeline inspectors
- Pump and lease operators
- Service supervisors
- Tool pushers
- Water truck drivers
These workers may work for firms that are involved in fracking operations in the following areas:
- Eagle Ford Shale
- Marcellus Shale
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Other FLSA Violations
Employers are required, under federal law, to compensate their workers for every hour worked. This includes mandatory:
- Time spent traveling for work
- Time spent in training
- Time spent in meetings
Of note, salaried employees and contractors, including oil and gas riggers and fracking workers, may also be eligible for compensation depending on the type of job they hold; their responsibilities; and the way in which they are paid—salary hourly, day rate. In fact, independent contractors working in the oil and gas industry may be eligible, in some cases, for unpaid overtime compensation. Some firms in this industry have allegedly misclassified thousands of workers as so-called independent contractors for the purpose of saving on overtime pay and may also have denied these workers medical and pension benefits.
The classification of employee versus independent contractor is based on job duties and responsibilities and also involves the employer’s control and oversight of its staff. For example, if an employer controls work hours and provides employees with the tools and equipment needed to complete the job, workers may be company employees who should be receiving, not just overtime pay, but benefits, as well.
"The problem of misclassification has become pervasive," said Dr. David Weil, a former economics professor at Boston University who runs the DOL's Wage and Hour Division, wrote ProPublica. "Employers are looking for opportunities in a changing business landscape at the employee's expenses to cut corners as much as possible, leaving room for wage and hour violations."
U.S. Department of Labor Investigations
A review by ProPublica of U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigations reveals that oil and gas workers, who typically work in high-risk environments, are often underpaid due to questionable accounting techniques that ensure workers are not receiving medical leave and unemployment insurance benefits. The investigations have been focused on worker misclassification," which is an accounting ploy in which full-time employees are classified as independent contractors who are paid hourly wages, but who may never realize these benefits. According to investigators and some experts, this is a growing trend meant to keep costs down.
According to ProPublica, as the oil and gas industry grows, many of the daily operations conducted on oil and gas rigs is sub-contracted out to smaller businesses. It is not unusual for various companies to be hired to handle an array of jobs, including well pad construction, well drilling, hydraulic fracking, and trucking water and chemicals for disposal, to name just some. Regardless of the many, varied companies and the thousands of workers, one, legal standard applies, but may not always be followed: That employees receive fair compensation for overtime hours worked.
A special enforcement initiative was undertaken by the agency in 2012 in its Northeast and Southwest regional offices. The initiative targeted the fracking industry and that industry’s supporting industries. As of August 2014, the DOL conducted 435 investigations that found that more than $13 million were due more than 9,100 workers in back wages.
In one case, between December 2009 and November 2011, a gas rig worker, employed in Pennsylvania and Colorado for Precision Air Drilling Services, worked about 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The worker unloaded and hooked up drilling equipment, maintaining the equipment during operation. At the time, the worker was a full-time employee; however, the firm classified the worker as exempt from the FLSA and did not compensate him time and a half for overtime hours worked. The case has since been settled.
Injuries, Deaths, May Be Associated With Overworked Laborers
In the past ten years, the oil and gas industry has grown significantly with employment increasing by more than 30 percent. Meanwhile, the average employment across all U.S. industries saw a 2.7 percent drop between 2007 and 2012. Research conducted by Annette Bernhardt, a scholar on low-wage work, revealed that 84 percent of oil, gas, and mining industry workers were employed by contractors in 2012. Concurrently, noted ProPublica, the industry has been plagued with increased on-the-job deaths and injuries. While no evidence suggests the accidents are due to inadequate training or overworked laborers, other industries’ accounts reveals that heavily outsourced work suggests these risks may exist.
Legal Help for Oil and Gas Day Rate Workers Who Are Victims of FLSA, Employment Violations
Worker rights groups and other experts believe there are likely thousands of workers who are not aware of protections to which they are entitled under wage laws, and who may be eligible to make a claim.
If you are a current or former oil and gas worker and you believe your employer violated the FSLA or other employment laws, you may have valuable legal rights, including eligibility to participate in a class action lawsuit to recover compensation for unpaid overtime or other wages and benefits you may be owed. To learn more about your legal rights, please fill out our online form or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).