How do oil and gas companies violate wage and overtime laws?

Working in the oil and gas industry is often difficult and may require long hours in physically demanding positions. Employees Closeup of Overtime Clock in Redwho work more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime compensation under the law unless they meet one of a handful of limited exceptions to the rule. If you are an employee in this field and are not receiving overtime compensation, it is important to assess whether your company is committing a wage or overtime violation.

Six Signs You Are the Victim of Wage and Overtime Violations by Your Company

How can you tell if you are entitled to overtime compensation? It is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney familiar with the laws relating to wage and overtime. However, there are also certain signs to watch for that may indicate you are being unfairly compensated. The following is an overview:

  1. You are a field service worker. Many companies in the oil and gas industry employ field service workers whose job it is to provide service to the company’s clients or assist the company in its operations. Examples of field service workers include field service engineers, mud engineers, tool pushers, technicians, and tanker men. Often, oil and gas companies pay their field service workers either a fixed salary, a day rate, or a per job rate. The companies may claim that the employees are therefore not entitled to overtime pay. This is not often the case, however, Field service workers typically do not fall within any of the stated exemptions from overtime pay under the law. As a result, a field service worker is entitled to overtime compensation if he or she works more than 40 hours in a given week. If you are a field service worker in the oil and gas industry and your company informs you that you are exempt from overtime compensation, you may therefore be entitled to overtime pay that you were wrongfully denied.
  2. You received bonuses or other forms of extra pay and it was not considered as part of your overtime compensation. When employees in the oil and gas industry are paid bonuses, this is typically done as compensation for work performed in the past. As a result, the pay should be included when calculating the employee’s overtime rate. For example, if you are paid $20 per hour, but are given a non-discretionary bonus at the end of the week, your hourly rate should be adjusted upwards. This then means that your overtime pay rate should be increased. Some employers do not do so, and instead fail to readjust the employee’s overtime payments for the period of time covered by the bonus. If you work in the oil and gas industry and received a bonus, you may be entitled to unpaid overtime compensation.
  3. Your company labeled you an independent contractor. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, independent contractors are not entitled to overtime compensation. However, an employer cannot simply deem an employee an independent contractor in an effort to avoid paying overtime compensation. There are various factors that dictate whether a person is an independent contractor vs. an employee. However, if you are economically dependent on the company and not in business for yourself, then you are an employee and are entitled to overtime compensation if you work more than 40 hours in a week.
  4. You are an assistant manager. If you are an assistant manager level employee, you are entitled to overtime compensation even if you are paid a salary, unless you fall under the executive exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are three tests to determine whether this is the case. First, your primary duty must be management of the company, department, or subdivision. Second, you must regularly direct the work of two or more other full time employees. And finally, you must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or at least to make suggestions and recommendations with regard to hiring, firing, promoting, advancing, or other work status changes. In most cases, an assistant manager level employee is entitled to overtime.
  5. You are required to work certain hours, but are not paid for all of those hours. For example, if you are required to clock in at 8 a.m. and clock out at 5 p.m., but are then required to do work later in the evening from home, you are entitled to overtime compensation for that additional time.
  6. You were previously classified as being exempt from overtime compensation, but then were reclassified as being non-exempt. Once reclassified, your employer did not give you any back pay for the overtime that you previously worked. Employers are required to do so under the law. They also must pay you liquidated damages in many cases, which equates to double the amount that was originally owed to you.

If you have reason to believe that you may be entitled to overtime compensation that you are not receiving, we strongly encourage you to seek professional legal assistance. To learn more about the overtime compensation that you may be entitled to, reach out today for more information at (888) 449-2068.


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.