There has been another victory for the hard-working oilfield workers in recovering their entitled overtime wages after two and a half years into the action brought by the lead plaintiff in a federal court in North Dakota.
On December 5, 2017, Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oil field services companies, agreed to pay as many as 122 field engineers, who opted into the collective action lawsuit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), for unpaid overtime wages as well as liquidated damages.
Like many other FLSA misclassification cases in this industry, the lawsuit alleges that Baker Hughes improperly classified its field engineers as exempt from overtime compensation when they actually spent the vast majority of time performing non-exempt work, such as rigging up and operating wellsite equipment, troubleshooting problems with wellsite operations and equipment, coordinating operational logistics, and reviewing and reporting jobsite performance data, as opposed to a small segment of exempt assignments.
Arguing Against Overtime
Baker Hughes contended the position of field engineer was ineligible for overtime, as the position is subject to the administrative and/or professional exemptions and that some workers might fall within the highly compensated employee exemption with an annual salary of over $100,000. Nonetheless, the discovery revealed that during their lengthy training periods as trainees, the workers performed duties that were non-exempt in nature, and they were paid under the $100,000 threshold to be excluded from overtime pay under the FLSA.
It is typical to see unscrupulous companies in the oilfield industry exploiting the workers by paying them a fixed day rate or a fixed weekly salary for tons of hours of work every week without compensating them proper overtime pay. We urge the workers to keep a vigilant eye on such illegal pay practices by the company and come forward to speak with attorneys specializing in wage and hour laws such as the Wage Authority Group to vindicate their overtime rights.
Image link: https://pixabay.com/en/construction-worker-oil-rig-681550/