If you live in Texas, chances are you or someone you know has some connection to the oil and gas industry. This state is well known for its oil production and refineries, as well as the many oil and gas industry jobs that come along with it. While job availability is a bonus for any state, this industry also has a tendency to create opportunities for wage and hour violations. It is important for employees to understand their legal rights.
Why So Many Oil and Gas Workers Have Jobs in Texas
Among the United States, Texas is the leading producer of total energy production, consisting primarily of crude oil and natural gas. The state has almost one-third of the total crude oil reserves in the U.S. There are several geological basins where the reserves are found. The largest are found in the Permian Basin of West Texas, which has more than 20 of the nation’s top 100 oil fields. In addition, Texas is the leading crude oil producing state in the country. Crude oil production reached 3.0 million barrels per day by mid-2014. Further, the state has 27 petroleum refineries that can process more than 5.1 million barrels of crude oil per day. This makes Texas the leader for crude oil refining capacity in the country. More than one-fourth of the nation’s total refining capacity is located in Texas, with most of these refineries located along the Gulf Coast, in the Houston Area, in Port Arthur, and Corpus Christie. With so much production and refining activity happening here, this naturally correlates to a large number of jobs in the oil and gas industry.
Why the Oil and Gas Industry Lends Itself to Wage and Hour Violations
While there may be opportunities for oil and gas workers looking for jobs in Texas, the industry also lends itself to many potential wage and hour violations. There are several reasons for this, including the following:
- Operators of major oil wells often hire multiple contractors who then bring in subcontractors to handle the work. Unfortunately, there tends to be less oversight of these smaller companies with regard to wage and hour violations. In addition, these companies may feel greater pressure to lower their overall labor costs, increasing the likelihood of wage and hour violations. Subcontractors often have to submit the lowest bid in order to win the job, and costs have to be cut somewhere in order to meet those bids.
- On job sites within the oil and gas industry, there are many different employees and independent contractors. These job sites need workers who can provide drilling and geological services, land leasing and acquisition services, oilfield support services, welding, pipeline maintenance, and other specialized and ancillary support services. With so many different employees and independent contractors, the chances for wage and hour violations increase.
- Work in the oil and gas industry is often physically demanding and requires long hours. Workers at a well site may need to perform their jobs under all types of weather conditions. Many oil and gas workers are expected to work for several weeks in a row without having any time off. Ideally, this leads to significant overtime pay for the employee. Unfortunately, some employers fail to pay the overtime compensation that workers rightfully deserve, whether it is intentional to cut costs or unintentional due to ignorance of the law or general oversight.
What to Do If Your Rights Are Violated
If you work in the oil and gas industry and you are not being compensated fairly, it is important to take action. We encourage you to take the following steps:
- Contact an experienced attorney for guidance. Your employer likely has significant resources at its disposal to defend against wage and hour violations. It is crucial to have a legal professional in your corner in order to protect your rights.
- Keep detailed records of your work hours, including work done while reportedly off the clock. It is important to have a record of these hours if you are not being compensated for all of the time that you are actually working.
- Determine whether you are entitled to protection under the various labor laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Your attorney can help you understand what laws may apply to your situation.
- Provide your attorney with a detailed description of your job title and job responsibilities.
- Gather statements showing the compensation that you have received to date as well as your records as to what you believe you should have been paid.
When you are ready to take action, we are here to help. We encourage you to contact us for more information at (888) 449-2068.