Oilfield and Fracking Giant Agrees to Pay Unpaid Overtime Wages
In September, the U. S. Department of Labor made an announcement on the case of Halliburton, the oilfield and fracking corporation, and missing unpaid overtime wages. Halliburton was ordered to pay back a total of 18 million dollars in unpaid overtime, and the company agreed.
Over 1,000 workers in several states including Pennsylvania were left without proper pay for the number of overtime hours worked. The Department of Labor made a statement regarding the case in a news release naming it, “one of the largest recoveries of overtime wages in recent years for the U.S. Department of Labor, oil and gas service provider.” In addition, “Halliburton, has agreed to pay $18,293,557 to 1,016 employees nationwide.”
This information was discovered after an ongoing and multi-year compliance initiative for the gas and oil industry of the Southwest and Northeast found inconsistencies with the company’s employee classification of overtime wage exemption.
What were the main issues leading to unpaid wages?
Employee Misclassification Leads to Unpaid Overtime Wages
After an investigation, it was found that Halliburton had listed “28 job positions as exempt from overtime. The company did not pay overtime to these salaried employees — working as field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisors, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists — when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.” More was also mentioned on how inaccurate records of employee hours had been recorded.
Spokesperson for Halliburton Susie McMichael stated in an email that the company caught this employee misclassification issue and reported it to the government upon discovery in a “self-audit” that was originally intended for business compliance.
What Qualifies an Employee as Overtime Exempt?
It’s important to understand that not all salary positions and employees are exempt from overtime wages. This type of “employee misclassification” is becoming more increasingly common from an employment law perspective. There are some exceptions set by FLSA which stipulate conditions that allow employees to be classified as exempt from overtime wages.
Overtime exempt positions include salary employment such as executive, administrative, and professional roles in the workplace. Such positions are considered “white collar” jobs that require additional responsibilities, skills, and/or expertise. More importantly, to be classified as exempt from overtime wages, an employee must perform these duties as their primary responsibilities in the workplace.
There are more guidelines set by FLSA to help determine whether or not an employee is exempt. According to the Department of Labor, “[t]o qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week.” This rule is soon to change from “$455” per week to “$970” per week under a new overtime exemption rule set by the Obama administration.
This particular issue of employee misclassification is among the most common FLSA violations for employees of the oil and gas industries. This is because it may be unclear, and companies have a tendency to lean toward exempt from overtime wages when it helps them save on the total cost of payroll in the long run. In this case, the misclassified employee loses hard-earned money.
Do you believe you or someone you know is owed unpaid overtime wages?
Let the employment law attorneys at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. help you with your case. We are steadfast advocates for misclassified employees collecting unpaid overtime wages. Give us a call for a consultation.