The U.S. Department of Labor claims a recent enforcement initiative in the oil fields of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico has resulted in workers recovering $1.3 million in lost wages. The DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) oil and gas initiative began in late 2014.
Investigations focused on pay schemes that attempted an end run on the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as paying a flat daily rate regardless of hours worked and misclassifying workers as independent contractors.
WHD looked not only at oil-producing companies but also at support industries such as trucking, lodging and staffing service providers.
Among WHD’s trophies from this hunt are Desta Drilling, a subsidiary of Midlands-based Clayton Williams, where investigators found that 449 workers were owed $317,846 in back wages, and that drillers were cheated out of overtime pay because the company didn’t count bonuses when calculating hourly rates of pay. Investigators also discovered that Got Safety in San Angelo had underpaid 37 employees by $74,666.
Advice: Employers with unusual pay practices should consult with an attorney to make sure they comply with all applicable laws.
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