A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the extraction of “unconventional” shale oil and gas through horizontal hydraulic fracturing (a/k/a fracking) has created approximately 1.7 million new jobs and expects that number to more than double in the next 20 years. While Texas tops the list for job creation with more than 500,000 new jobs related to fracking, North Dakota and Ohio also rank in the top 10. The following are a few examples of the types of jobs created:
- Drilling / Rig Mechanics
- Top Drive Technicians
- Inspectors – pipeline, welding, electrical
- Pumpers / Lease Operators
- Tool / Mud Pushers
- Field Engineers
- Draftsmen / CAD
With all of these new oil field jobs has also come a new wave of overtime wage claims relating to the failure of companies involved in the many aspects of drilling and developing the oil and gas fields to pay workers properly for the overtime hours they work. Given the long hours put in by many oil and gas workers, the wages lost can often range from $10,000 to $100,000 for a single worker and millions of dollars for all of the similar workers at a company.
Under federal overtime law, and most state’s labor laws, most workers are legally entitled to receive time and a half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 per week. In some states, such as California, that have daily overtime pay laws, workers are entitled to time and a half, or even double time, if they work over 8 or 12 hours in a single day. Whether or not a particular job is entitled to overtime pay is not just based on how, or even how much, a worker is paid, but on the duties and responsibilities of the worker. So, merely being paid a “salary” or a high hourly or day rate does not mean that a worker is not entitled to overtime pay. If the job duties and responsibilities do not meet the specific requirements of an exemption to the wage and hour laws, the employee must be paid a premium for their overtime hours. The right to receive overtime pay cannot be waived or voluntarily given up by agreeing to a pay scheme – even if an employment contract has been signed.
The most common overtime violations fall into the following categories:
- Straight Time for Overtime – workers are paid the same hourly rate for all hours worked, including the hours over 40 per week.
- Day Rate Pay with no Overtime – workers are paid a set day rate for all hours worked per day, but do not get time and a half for all hours they work over 40 per week.
- A Fixed “Salary” with no Overtime – workers are paid a weekly or monthly salary that covers all hours worked, but do not get time and a half for all hours they work over 40 per week.
- Independent Contractor misclassification – workers are treated as independent contractors instead of employees and not paid overtime and the employer avoids its responsibility for payroll taxes.
Given the significant amounts of pay that are at stake, it is important that workers take the time to understand whether their particular job is one that is one that is legally required to receive overtime pay. Bosses and HR cannot be relied on for this critical information. There are strict time limits that apply to any claim to recover unpaid overtime, so procrastination can be costly. If you have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, you should contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a free and confidential review of your particular situation. Call 1-866-559-0400, email Michael Lore at [email protected] or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation form.