Changing the Way Oilfield Workers are Paid
A major change is taking place in the way thousands of oilfield workers are paid – from a day rate (or salary plus day rate) with no overtime pay to hourly pay with time and a half for all hours over 40 per week. This change is occurring in an effort to bring their pay into compliance with federal and state overtime wage laws, and as the result of lawsuits being filed to recover millions of dollars in past unpaid overtime wages. The legal term for this change is “reclassification” from exempt to non-exempt.
MWD workers & LWD Workers Getting Pay Moving Forward, But Not Looking Back
While some companies have begun to reclassify their Measurement While Drilling (MWD), Logging While Drilling (LWD), Field Service Specialist and Directional Driller positions as “non-exempt” and started to pay overtime on a going forward basis, they rarely (if ever) offer to pay workers for all of the past overtime they were deprived of. That is where law firms like ours, who focus on filing class and collective action lawsuits on behalf of oilfield workers, come into the picture. Our job is to recover compensation for the overtime wages that the employer failed to pay over the past 2-3 years (longer in some states such as California and New York).
What do MWD and LWD Oilfield Workers Do?
Based on our investigation, including firsthand information from our clients and potential clients, the job duties for the vast majority of MWD / LWD, Field Service Specialist and Directional Driller positions do not qualify them as “exempt” positions – meaning these jobs should pay overtime. These jobs involve hands-on work operating various tools and technologies for the clients and operating and maintaining LWD/MWD surface systems and down hole tools at rig site. Workers use their hands, skills, and knowledge to operate specialized drilling equipment, apply routine procedures, tools, and technical operating standards, to make sure that drilling systems perform their intended functions. The work is largely mechanical and procedural, involving repetitive and familiar tasks.
The overtime pay exemptions provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act do not apply to field workers whose primary job is to perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy – no matter how highly paid they might be. So, despite the fact that many skilled field workers earn over $100,000 per year, they are still entitled to time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per workweek.
Companies Still Owe the Unpaid Back Pay!
Further confirming our findings, some oilfield service companies’ own internal reviews have reached the same conclusion, prompting them to implement new compensation programs that provide overtime pay for these jobs, but only on a going forward basis. Companies may put various “spins” on the decision to reclassify job positions and begin paying for future overtime, but the fact remains that the vast majority are liable for unpaid back pay (potentially double) as well. This is not something employers tell employees, nor is it something they typically volunteer to pay – unless and until one or more workers hire a lawyer to press the issue via a class/collective action lawsuit. Fortunately, firm’s such as ours take wage and hour cases on a contingent fee basis so there are no up-front costs to bring a claim, and no fees at all unless there is a recovery.
Contact Lore Law for Help Claiming Your Unpaid Back Pay!
Given the strict time limits for bringing these claims, procrastination can be costly. Do not rely on your supervisor or Human Resources for this critical information. If you have worked as a MWD / LWD, Field Service Specialist, Directional Driller or a similar position and have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a free and confidential review.