Too many Americans are beingdenied the overtime compensation they’ve earned. While refusing pay is wrong and illegal in any industry, for employees in the oilfields of America where work can be physically challenging and possibly dangerous, it’s incredibly unfair. Especially for workers who are striving to keep our nation running.
Overtime wage laws are being ignored by many employers, but the problem is becoming increasingly apparent in the oil and gas industry, especially among those companies specializing in fracking. Fracking is a newer drilling process in which rock below the earth is hydraulically fractured to extract natural gas.
Two fracking companies have recently grabbed the headlines for their refusal to pay their hard-working employees fairly for the hours they worked. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees are to be paid time and a half for every hour over the 40-hour workweek. Yet, these companies have tried to get around the law to boost their bottom lines.
RDT Services Inc. in Tulsa was required to pay more than $68,000 in back pay to 20 field pumpers after they failed to follow FLSA overtime guidelines. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, non-exempt employees were working as many as 48 hours with no overtime and the company failed to keep adequate time and payroll records.
In addition, a class action suit has been filed against Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania for violating FLSA laws. The claim contends that the company forced 50 workers to attend mandatory safety meetings before and after their paid shifts. In addition, the company is alleged to have misclassified field employees who conduct baseline sampling survey as exempt in order to pay them straight time for the hours worked and did not compensate them for hours they spent in the office.
The complaint states, “The net effect of defendants’ policies and practices, instituted and implemented by company principles, officers, managers and/or members, is that defendants willfully failed to pay overtime compensation and willfully failed to keep accurate time records to save payroll costs.”
In the oil and gas industry, it’s important for workers to be aware of their rights in the field and in the office. Many believe because of their roles and classification, they are ineligible for overtime pay. Or that if they earn a salary, they cannot receive overtime. In most instances, their employers play on their confusion and misunderstanding of the law. Some of the biggest violations include:
- Misclassifying employees as exempt by designating them as contractors or as “professionally exempt” because of their knowledge and experience
- Refusing to pay overtime for a salaried employee even though he or she earns less than $23,000 annually, earns the same amount of money each pay period, and doesn’t supervise other employees
- Improperly tracking and keeping payroll records
- Forcing employees to travel, attend meetings or participate in training off the clock
If you have worked in the oil and gas industry or are currently employed by a company in the field and feel you have been refused overtime compensation you’re due, contact the employment lawyers at Barrett & Farahany, LLP, LLP Toll Free at (404) 238-7299. We can assist you in understanding the law, and if you’re eligible for overtime pay, help you secure the pay you’re entitled for your hard work and dedication.