AUSTIN, TX — A group of current former equipment operators for a Texas-based energy company recently asked a federal judge to approve a $1.35 million settlement to resolve over 100 complaints alleging that the defendant failed to pay overtime to workers. The complaints alleged that Schlumberger Technology Corp. improperly applied the fluctuating workweek method of paying employees under federal labor and wage laws.
According to the unpaid overtime lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, the defendant paid the 138 plaintiffs using the fluctuating workweek method, which allows employers to pay workers half-time for overtime wages. However, in order for the method to be valid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) the employer must meet certain conditions, including paying workers a fixed salary.
Furthermore, for the method to be valid, the employee must clearly understand that he or she is to be paid by the fluctuating workweek method where the individual’s average hourly wage is calculated by dividing the flat salary by the hours worked. The method assumes that all the straight time is paid in the flat salary and the employer only has to pay the remaining “half time” for the overtime hours.
Additionally, the employee must actually work a fluctuating schedule above and below 40 hours per week as the system was designed to maintain a skilled labor force for companies who may have busy and slow periods. The plaintiffs claim that they did not work a fluctuating schedule nor did Schlumberger Technology Corp. pay a fixed salary with half time for overtime wages on top.
Although the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit as a proposed class action and were given conditional class-action status, a federal judge ultimately decertified the class on the ground the group did not present similarly situated claims. Fortunately, the two sides were able to come to an agreement to settle the matter on behalf of all the plaintiffs and avoid litigating individual claims.
Oil Worker Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit
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