Roustabouts: A Difficult Job That May Come With Overtime Violations

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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An Oil Field Worker Working in the Oil FieldWhile working on an oil field can sometimes come with significant benefits, such as high compensation, many of the jobs in this field are not easy to hold. The nature of the work is frequently physically demanding and often performed under difficult environmental circumstances. Unfortunately, some employers also attempt to compensate the employees unfairly by withholding overtime pay. A roustabout is one common position on an oil field that may be at risk of overtime and wage violations.

An Overview of the Roustabout Role on the Oil Field

On the oil field, the roustabout has an important role. The roustabout is a worker who provides maintenance. Examples of the many duties faced by roustabouts include the following:

  1. Setting up oil well heads
  2. Setting up oil lead lines that are connected to stock tanks
  3. Maintaining saltwater disposal pumps
  4. Maintaining lease roads
  5. Creating dikes around tank batteries that are on a lease
  6. Assisting with roughneck drilling
  7. Assisting with oil well completion
  8. Servicing the well

Essentially, the roustabout will carry out any job on the oil field, including those that require little training. Over time, a roustabout may take on more challenging responsibilities, including dangerous jobs requiring additional experience. The role of the roustabout is often difficult, as the jobs often exist in rough environments and impose significant physical demands and stress on the worker.

How Roustabouts Are Sometimes Victims of Wage and Overtime Violations

Despite the hard work that they provide on the oil field, roustabouts are just as much at risk of becoming victims of wage and overtime compensation violations as other positions. The following is an overview of some of the more common ways that roustabouts may be paid unfairly:

  1. The employer may misclassify the roustabouts so that they are deemed ineligible for overtime pay.  For example, the employer may tell the roustabout that he or she is ineligible for overtime compensation because they are paid a salary or because they have a job title that sounds more specialized and manageable. In addition, an employer may attempt to classify a roustabout as an independent contractor despite the fact that the roustabout is clearly an employee of the company. It is important to note that whether a roustabout is entitled to receive overtime compensation does not relate to the job title or the manner in which he or she is paid. The determination as to whether overtime compensation applies is based solely on the roustabout’s job duties and responsibilities. In fact, it is more likely that a roustabout would be entitled to receive overtime pay than for that entitlement not to exist.
  2. The employer may attempt to pay the roustabout simply “straight time.” Straight time is the same hourly rate for every hour worked. However, if the roustabout is entitled to the benefits of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the company is required to pay the roustabout one and a half times the employee’s regular hourly rate for overtime hours worked.
  3. The employer may not pay the roustabout for all hours worked. Some employers attempt to avoid compensating employees for things such as travel time from job site to job site, attendance at safety meetings, and attendance at job training sessions. These tasks, however, should not be treated as “off the clock” for purposes of calculating an employee’s hours worked in a given week. Instead, the hours should be compensated and should be counted when calculating whether or not the employee worked overtime in a given pay period.

If you are a roustabout and suspect that you are not being fairly compensated, it is important to have a knowledgeable legal professional in your corner. We can help you obtain the compensation that is rightfully yours. We encourage you to contact us today for more information at (888) 449-2068.


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