On September 22, 2015, Texas-based oil and gas services provider Halliburton agreed to pay over $18 million to 1,000 of its nationwide employees following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL is a federal agency tasked with enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires that covered employees receive overtime pay for all hours worked above 40 hours in the workweek.
Halliburton is one of the largest oil and gas providers in the energy industry and employs over 70,000 employees. In an investigation intended to crack down on oil and gas companies that are non compliant with the FLSA, the DOL discovered that Halliburton misclassfied 1,000 of its employees as exempt from overtime pay. These employees included field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisors, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists. Halliburton also neglected to keep records of hours worked by those employees. Failing to keep accurate records of employees’ hours and misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime are violations of the FLSA. According to the DOL, in order to be exempt from overtime, a position generally must meet specific job criteria and have a salary of no less than $455 a week. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, stated:
Employers who don’t pay their employees the wages they have earned don’t just hurt their workers, they undercut employers who play by the rules. That’s why we work everyday to help level the playing field.
As a result of the investigations, Halliburton re-classified the identified positions and has worked with the DOL to resolve this problem. According to Dan Boyce from Inside Energy:
The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest violators of wage theft laws, especially when it comes to not properly paying overtime. Inside Energy research shows that the industry has paid more than $32 million nationwide in the last ten years after a series of DOL investigations.
This year, in addition to sums recovered from Halliburton, the DOL also has recovered over $600,000 in back wages from a mud company that paid its 121 employees a flat rate instead of by the hour and over $600,000 from an oil drilling company that misclassfied 133 roughnecks and crane operators as independent contractors.
It is essential to have agencies like the DOL that enforce labor laws like the FLSA, advocate for employees and punish campanies that cheat their workers of their rightful pay. If you were denied wages for your overtime hours or have been misclassified by your employer, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.