Every Oil and Gas Worker Should Understand These Crucial Terms

Galvin B. Kennedy
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Galvin Kennedy is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice to overtime and wage claims.
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Working in the oil and gas industry requires a person to have a strong work ethic and self-motivation, as many such jobs require long hours under strenuous conditions. Many of these workers are entitled to overtime compensation when the number of hours they work in a given week reaches a certain amount. Unfortunately, however, some employers try to avoid their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other wage and overtime laws.

10 Concepts Relating to an Oil and Gas Industry Overtime Claim

If an employer does not fulfill its obligations under the law, oil and gas workers may be entitled to pursue a legal claim. Before doing so, it is essential to understand some of the key terms as they relate to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The following is an overview of 10 such terms:

  1. Attorneys’ Fees. If you pursue and win a claim against an employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are entitled to an additional award for “reasonable attorneys’ fees.” These attorneys’ fees also include reimbursement for certain out-of-pocket expenses that you incurred when litigating the suit. However, if you pursue a claim against your employer and lose, you are not responsible for your employer’s attorneys’ fees unless your claim was frivolous.
  2. The Duties Test. In order to be exempt from the overtime requirements outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must meet two tests. The first test is known as the salary test. The second test is the duties test. This test requires that employees perform duties that are considered exempt.
  3. Hours Worked. A key component of the Fair Labor Standards Act is that wages are determined by the number of hours an employee actually works. This is known as “hours worked.”  All of the time that an employee actually worked counts towards hours worked. If you are not working because of holidays, sick days, or other days off, this is not considered in calculating your hours worked.
  4. Joint Employment. Oil and gas workers are often highly sought after by employers. If an oil and gas worker performs the same job for two different employers, each employer is equally responsible for wages. The exception is if the two employers are truly separate and independent. Conversely, the term “dual employment” applies where an employee works for only one employer, but performs two separate jobs.
  5. Nonexempt Employees. This is an important term to familiarize yourself with when pursuing a claim because nonexempt employees are typically entitled to be paid overtime. Overtime is paid at the rate of time and a half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in one week. To determine if an employee is nonexempt, the salary test and the duties test are each applied. Most hourly workers are nonexempt. Salaried employees may still be nonexempt if they perform exempt duties.
  6. Off-the-Clock Work. This is another way of saying that you were performing work while off duty. This work is performed outside of the normal hours of the job. For example, if you are performing equipment maintenance, staying late without putting in for overtime, or doing homework, this is considered off-the-clock work. Employers sometimes try to categorize hours as off-the-clock since these hours are not counted as “hours worked.”
  7. Regular Rate. The regular rate of pay for an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act is the total non-overtime compensation that you receive for work, divided by the number of non-overtime hours that the wages are intended to compensate. It is important to understand your regular rate because overtime is calculated at time and one-half of your regular rate.
  8. Salary Basis Test.  Some employees have a guaranteed minimum amount of money that they will receive in the paycheck for any work period during which the employee works. This is considered being paid on a salary basis. This test is important since it is one way that employees are deemed exempt or nonexempt from overtime compensation under the Act.
  9. Statute of Limitations. For any oil and gas worker considering a claim against an employer for unpaid wages, this is a critical term that must be paid close attention to. The statute of limitations allows employees to recover back wages beginning two years before a complaint is filed, extending forward until the case reaches resolution. The statute of limitations becomes three years if the employer willfully or recklessly disregarded the Act.
  10. Settlements. This is another important term for oil and gas workers to understand. There are typically two ways to reach a settlement for a claim under the Act. The first is to settle the matter under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Labor. The other way to settle is to do so during the course of litigation. These settlements are binding.

When you are ready to being the process of pursuing a claim for the compensation that is rightfully yours, we are here to guide you every step of the way. We encourage you to reach out today for more information at (888) 449-2068.

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