Oilfield Workers and Overtime Laws

Oilfield workers are known to pull long, tiring shifts. The oil and gas industry employs a wide range of workers, including engineers, drillers, managers, accountants, truck drivers, and even dockworkers. These workers perform vital tasks that help ensure that the country has crude oil and other essential resources necessary for keeping the society running. All these workers are protected from exploitation by their employers by Overtime Law.

According to the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), all employees should be paid an overtime rate 1.5x their usual pay rate for hours over 40 worked in a week. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including roles such as administrative duties that don’t entail undertaking the same tasks daily. While different workweeks may be established for different employees and don’t necessarily need to coincide with the calendar, the workweek of a company must be a fixed and frequently recurring period of 168 hours. It is prohibited to average hours over two or more weeks.

Ways Oilfield Companies Violate Overtime Laws

While many oilfield workers usually put in more hours than the normal 40 work hours a week, these long hours aren’t rewarded as they should be. Oilfield companies often violate overtime laws in a number of scenarios, including:

Worker Misclassification

A worker could be wrongly classified as an administrator, resulting in them being exempted from overtime requirements, even though they don’t actually hold a managerial role or perform managerial tasks. The US Department of Labor provides a comprehensive list of workers exempted from overtime laws.

Salary

There’s a common misconception that a worker who receives a salary isn’t entitled to overtime pay. This isn’t true. A worker being salaried doesn’t mean that the salary automatically excludes them from overtime pay. Workers who perform the same tasks every day, such as engineers and inspectors may still be entitled to overtime pay despite being salaried.
The definition of overtime when it comes to salaried workers is often debated in courts. However, a lawyer can review your role and advise you whether you are entitled to overtime pay.

Day-Rate Pay

The day-rate pay is also known as flat-rate or per-shift pay. Some employers opt to compensate their workers a fixed amount for a day’s work. However, this payment criterion doesn’t exclude these employees from overtime compensation. For example, suppose a worker is paid $150 for a day’s work but works 5 10-hour shifts in a week, for a total of 50 hours. The worker is entitled to an overtime rate for the 10 extra hours of work.

Failing to Pay for Time Spent Working Off the Clock

Employers should pay workers for the time spent working off the clock, both before and after scheduled work shifts. This may include travel time between job sites, travel times between a shop and a job site, paperwork completed at home, and prep work for meetings.

Oilfield Employee Recourse

Suppose an employer is found guilty of violating the FLSA by not properly compensating their oilfield workers. The employees could be entitled to back pay for up to 2-3 years, lawyer fees, and liquidated damages.
And while an employer may attempt to avoid compensating the back pay of an oilfield worker by claiming they don’t have the worker’s pay records, it’s a requirement for employers to maintain accurate employee records dating to the last three years. These records may include hours worked each day, the time and day of the week when an employee’s shift begins, and total hours worked each week, among other records.

Oilfield Workers Denied Overtime Pay Should Seek Legal Counsel

Suppose your employer violates federal law by refusing to pay the overtime compensation you’re legally owed; you’re allowed to seek compensation in court. Even if your employer recently began paying your overtime, you may still be owed back wages for overtime pay that you should have been receiving all along. The experienced attorneys of Josephson Dunlap LLP can review your role to determine whether your employer owes you unpaid overtime wages and can help you seek out this compensation.

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