The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has determined that California wage and hour laws are applicable to individuals employed in oil drilling operations that occur off the coast of California on the continental shelf. A California District Court had previously dismissed the workers’ wage and hour lawsuit finding that the California wage and hour laws were inconsistent with a federal law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The District Court determined that the federal OCSLA covered the Plaintiffs wage and hour claims (including meal and rest break claims) and not the California Labor Code.
The 9th Circuit reversed, “[w]hile recognizing that the FLSA has a savings clause that expressly allows for more protective state minimum wage and overtime laws, the district court nevertheless concluded that the California wage and hour claims were unavailable.” A review of the FLSA and the OCSLA lead the 9th Circuit to conclude that California law should control the Plaintiffs claims for unpaid wages, rest breaks, and meal breaks – not the OCSLA.
What Does The California Labor Code Say?
The California Labor Code requires employers to provide a paid 30 min lunch break for every 8 hour shift worked. Employers must provide employees with two rest breaks during an eight hour day, one for every four hours worked. Additionally, the California Labor Code provides a daily overtime premium, which include 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate for anything over 8 hours in a single day and double time for anything over 12 hours in a single day. These are added protections for a worker under state law, which the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not provide.
Drilling Employees Are Often Cheated Out Of Wages
Employees on drilling operations are often misclassified as independent contractors and deprived of the protections of state and federal wage and hour laws. Employees in the industry also work long shifts on back to back days.
If you work on an oil drilling operation, you should contact the attorneys at the Wage Authority Group to ensure the individuals/entities you are working for are operating within federal and state wage and hour laws.