If you’ve ever worked in the oil and gas industry, you probably have logged long hours on the job while working in dangerous conditions. Even though people who work in the oil and gas industry tend to receive handsome paychecks for working overtime, most workers are not aware that they are probably getting cheated of thousands of dollars, and in some instances, tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages. If you are an oil industry worker and have been wrongfully denied your overtime contact a wage claims lawyer to review your case.
Table of Contents
- 1 Did You Know That Some Oil Companies Misclassify Their Workers? How Do They Do It?
- 2 How Does Misclassifying an Employee Affect Their Pay?
- 3 How Do Companies in the Oil and Gas Industry Breach Wage and Overtime Laws?
- 4 How Does One Track Their Overtime for Wage Dispute?
- 5 Contact a Wage Claim Attorney Today!
Did You Know That Some Oil Companies Misclassify Their Workers? How Do They Do It?
According to the now-defunct American online magazine Pacific Standard, the misclassification of oilfield workers is one of the ways oil and gas companies deny workers their hard-earned wages. In some instances, workers in the oilfield industry are misclassified as independent contractors that are paid on an hourly basis.
When classified as independent contractors, workers lose their entitlement to get paid overtime and may also not be entitled to worker’s compensation or health benefits. As a result, the amount workers lose in lost wages can be high, considering that workers who put in more than 40-hour workweeks should receive time-and-a-half pay. Furthermore, when a worker has to foot the cost of their health insurance or has to pay for their medical care when injured while on the job, their overheads can quickly add up and could end up eating into their entitled benefits and pay.
According to the Department of Labor, about 10,000 oilfield workers were owed approx. $13,000,000 in back wages because of being misclassified by their respective companies.
How Does Misclassifying an Employee Affect Their Pay?
The misclassification of employees could lead to the denial of:
When you are classified as an independent contractor, you no longer work under FLSA OT regulations. As a result, your employer can pay you a fixed hourly rate irrespective of how many overtime hours you log a day.
The oil industry is one of the most dangerous industries to work in, which is why oilfield workers are generally deserving of additional pay. When you are classified as an independent worker, the company employing your services has the legal right to pay you less than what is considered the minimum wage.
As a contractual worker, your employer is not legally required to provide you with unemployment insurance.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
As a worker under contract, your employer does not have to honor workers’ compensation seeing that you are an independent contractor.
If you believe that the company employing your services has misclassified you as an independent worker, consider reaching out to us today and schedule a free-of-charge consultation. As an oilfield worker, you have every right to be adequately remunerated for the work you do. Do not allow deliberate tricks or errors to cost you.
How Do Companies in the Oil and Gas Industry Breach Wage and Overtime Laws?
As a worker in the oil and gas industry, you need to be physically and mentally strong since there is so much you have to endure. Employees who clock more than 40 hours a week are, by law, entitled to overtime compensation unless they meet one of several limited exceptions. If you work in the oilfields and haven’t yet received overtime compensation even though you clock well over 40 hours a week, consider finding out if your employer is committing an overtime or wage violation.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, anyone working as an independent contractor isn’t entitled to receive overtime compensation. However, employers can’t merely make workers independent contractors just to avoid paying them overtime. Several factors prescribe whether an individual is an employee or an independent worker. If you’re economically dependent on the company and are not in business yourself, then you’re an employee of the company and are entitled to get overtime compensation if you’ve worked or have been working over 40 hours a week.
How Does One Track Their Overtime for Wage Dispute?
According to the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that employers in the oil and gas industry should pay workers overtime for all the hours they have worked over the standard 40-hour workweek. As such, if you’ve clocked half an hour past the standard 40-hours a week, your employer should pay you half an hour’s worth of overtime at time-and-a-half.
Sadly, many companies in the oil and gas industry try to avoid paying this higher rate by using deceit and trickery. Because of this, it is vital that you discuss your overtime pay with the employer before you sign any contract and that you carefully go through the agreement to avoid any misrepresentations. It is also essential that you keep accurate records of your personal overtime and schedule.
Create a Spreadsheet
Do not rely on the records your employer keeps. When you sign in at work using a computer login or a punch card system, make sure you also document the time you got to work. Also, make sure you take a photo of the time you got using your phone or make a copy of the timecard — track all of your start times, lunches, breaks, and end times.
Initiate a Witnessed Roll-Call
Some supervisors are willing to set up a system through which they keep hardcopy documents of all your work hours. Initiate a roll-call to document all of your breaks. If the supervisor refuses, go for lunches and breaks with a trusted colleague who can act as your witness.
If, for whatever reason, you have to punch out but are still carrying out tasks that are associated with your line of duty, track and record the times.
Track Missed Breaks and Lunches
As a worker, you are entitled to lunches and breaks. However, you won’t always have the opportunity to take breaks. If you end up working through designated rest periods, ensure this time is accounted for in your weekly timesheet.
Don’t Throw Away your Pay Stubs.
Some discrepancies in wages can take time to figure out. Sadly, some employers will intentionally drag things out, hoping that you don’t have the pay stub to prove the inconsistency. As such, always ensure you keep your stubs for as long as you can, or at least for 6-months to 1 year after you’ve received them. Apart from helping with payroll issues, your stubs can be of great assistance when it is time to file your taxes.
Double Check Your Pay and Hours
While you should trust that you are appropriately paid, computer errors, miscommunications, and human errors are bound to happen. Do not allow a glitch or another person’s mistake to affect your pay. So, make sure you check and double-check your pay and hours to make sure your wages, overtime, and checks are represented correctly.
Let your employer know when you are about to reach your overtime. Employers are sometimes unaware of how long their workers have been working. Alert your supervisor and let them know that your overtime is approaching. That way, he let you know if he wants you to stay on or to go home. If you don’t notify your employer, you might end up clocking free hours for the company.
Hire the Services of a Legal Expert
If you are continuously being underpaid despite clocking overtime hours or your overtime grievances are continually being ignored, consider contacting an experienced overtime attorney today and have them help you fight for your rights. With proper representation, you should be able to get the back pay and justice that you deserve.
Contact a Wage Claim Attorney Today!
We know that some employers try their best to avoid paying their workers. We also know how to legally sway them to pay workers the wages they’ve rightfully earned. If you have been clocking overtime hours and haven’t yet been compensated for these extra hours, we advise you to seek the services of a professional workers’ compensation attorney. For more information on overtime compensation and your rights as an oilfield worker, check our Oil And Gas Industry Wage Claims page.