The U.S. has strict laws that protect the rights of workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 specifically addresses the right of all workers to be paid a fair wage. The act further requires that most “non-exempt” workers must be paid one and half times their hourly rate for any overtime work. Overtime work is defined as any work done over forty hours per week.
While most workers are entitled to overtime pay, there are some exemptions noted in the FLSA. Those exempt from receiving overtime pay include workers who work in a professional, administrative, executive and/or sales capacity. However, for these exemptions to apply, the worker must complete very specific job duties as delineated by the FLSA.
Employers may at times try to designate a worker as an exempt employee in an effort to avoid paying him or her for overtime pay. Examples of this may include a worker who has been designated as a manager, but who may not actually be performing managerial job duties, such as supervising two or more people and having the authority to hire and fire other employees. It is important to note that the employer has the burden of proving whether an employee is exempt from overtime pay. Alarmingly, the Department of Labor has estimated that seventy percent of employers are violating FLSA overtime laws.
Under the FLSA, employers are also required to keep records for all non-exempt workers. Although the government does not require specific forms for these records, employers must ascertain that they are keeping required records on all non-exempt workers under their employment. These required records include:
- The time and day of the week when the employee’s workweek begins. This includes hours worked each day and total hours worked each workweek;
- The basis on which the employee’s wages are paid;
- The employee’s regular hourly pay rate;
- The employee’s total daily or weekly straight-time earnings;
- The employee’s total overtime earnings for the workweek;
- All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages;
- Total wages paid each pay period; and
- Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.
If an employer has failed to keep proper records of an employee’s time worked, including overtime, this does not prevent the employer from having to pay the employee for overtime. If the employer has not kept proper records of the time the employee has worked, the employee may provide an estimate of this time in an attempt to calculate overtime wages.
Oilfield Workers’ Rights under FLSA
Oilfield workers are no exception to the rights provided to workers of all industries under the FLSA. Workers in this industry often work arduous hours, such as the common “twelve on, twelve off” work schedule. Although oilfield workers may be paid a base salary and a day rate by their employers, they are often paid the same rate for regular time and overtime hours.
In recent years, numerous FLSA violation claims have been brought against oil industry companies such as Baker Hughes and Schlumberger for failure to pay proper overtime wages to oilfield workers. Many of these claims address the unlawful practice of paying certain oilfield workers the same rate for hours worked over the forty hour work week, when in actuality they should be receiving overtime pay, or time and a half pay.
Although oilfield workers may be hesitant to bring claims against their current employers, it is important to note that, by law, employers cannot retaliate against employees for bringing FLSA claims against their employers. The types of complaints protected against retaliation claims include both informal and formal complaints.
Protect Your Legal Rights
It is important to understand your employment rights as an oilfield worker. All workers, regardless of their industry, are entitled to fair and just compensation by their employers. The FLSA was enacted to protect the rights of all workers to ensure that they are fairly compensated for all hours worked, including overtime hours.
If you believe that you or a loved one has not received proper overtime compensation under the FLSA from oilfield employers, you may be entitled to certain damages. Please contact our firm at 1-800-247-1623 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation today to discuss your legal rights.
Read frequently asked questions regarding wage and hour litigation for oilfield workers.
Learn more about this topic:
U.S. Department of Labor – Overview of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
U.S. Department of Labor – Wages and Hours Worked: Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay
U.S. Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division – Handy Reference Guide to the FLSA
 Information obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor website