Overtime Pay Laws Protect Against Wage Theft in Oil Field Jobs
Fracking, which is the exploration of natural gas deposits embedded in shale along with oil drilling, has created roughly 1 million of the 2.7 million new jobs in the country since 2002, giving the U.S. economy and job crisis a much-needed boost. Fracking entails a process in which fluids are injected into the ground at high pressures to enable the extraction of natural gas. According to Bright Labs, a San Francisco-based jobs tips site, this year alone the shale boom helped create 33,000 new U.S. jobs with an average annual salary of $150,000. With more and more jobs blossoming within the oil field industry, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is being abused more often.
How are employers violating overtime pay laws in the oil field industry? The three most common ways in which workers fall victim to wage theft within the industry include:
- Misclassification as an independent contractor
- Day rate with no overtime pay
- Straight time for overtime
A recent case of improper pay involved C and K Rentals in Cuero, Texas, a company which rents and leases equipment to oil companies at drilling and production sites in southern Texas. The company was required to pay more than $433,000 in back wages to 124 current and former gate guards and oil equipment cleaners following a U.S. Labor Department investigation. The investigation found violations of the minimum wage, overtime pay, and record-keeping provisions of the federal FLSA. Specifically, the oil field supply company misclassified FLSA-covered employees as independent contractors, thereby denying them the minimum wage and overtime compensation guaranteed under federal law.
Misclassification as an independent contractor is an alarming trend among employers within the oil field industry, which preys on the hard earned wages of vulnerable employees. Employers also violate overtime pay laws by paying employees a flat day rate, regardless of the amount of overtime worked, as well as straight time for overtime – meaning they receive their normal hourly rate even for hours worked over 40. These pay schemes are illegal and employees who have been victimized are entitled to recover an amount equal to double their unpaid overtime wages for the last 2-3 years.
If you are an oil field worker and feel that you aren’t receiving the correct overtime pay, it’s important to contact a lawyer experienced with overtime laws to get yourself the overtime pay you deserve.