CASPER, Wyo. — Editors Note: The original article was posted by Billings Gazette on September 22, 2015.
After being subjected to a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), oil and gas giant Halliburton will be required to pay 27 Wyoming workers a total of $506,000 in compensation for withheld overtime wages, according to the Billings Gazette.
The compensation comes as part of a settlement totaling $18.3 million – one of the largest settlements won by the DOL in recent years.
In addition to 27 Wyoming workers, nearly 1000 workers nationwide will receive withheld wage compensation ranging from $960 to $53,000, according to Juan Rodriguez of the DOL.
Federal investigators initially discovered that Halliburton had misclassified employees in 29 different positions as overtime exempt although further position research determined that they were should not be exempt from overtime benefits.
These positions included field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists and drilling tech advisers who regularly worked more than 40 hours per week but were never paid the necessary overtime wage rate, a direct violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In addition to misclassification, the company also neglected to maintain accurate timesheets indicating employee work hours, allowing them to manipulate overtime qualification for employees.
A statement issued by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez read, “Employers who don’t pay their employees the wages they have earned don’t just hurt their workers, they undercut employers who play by the rules, that’s why we work every day to help level the playing field.”
The labor department has identified Halliburton as one of the world’s largest providers of products and services in the energy industry, touting more than 70,000 employees across multiple countries.
When these allegations were made public, Halliburton was quick to to explain that the issue was initially discovered during a self-audit saying:
“The company re-classified the identified positions, and throughout this process Halliburton has worked earnestly and cooperatively with the U.S. Department of Labor to equitably resolve this situation.”
Wyoming Employment Regulations Information
Casper is the second largest city in the state of Wyoming with a reported population of nearly 60,000 permanent residents. The status of Casper as a main population hub means that it is home to some of the most plentiful employment opportunities in the state.
While the comparative large size of Casper offers attractive economic opportunities to employers and employees, it also presents increased opportunities for employers to cover up Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) violations to maximize their profitability.
Because of this, it is important for all employees to be aware of the full extent of their employment rights offered by FLSA and other relevant state statutes including minimum wage laws, overtime wage policies, and classification requirements.
One of the most frequently violated FLSA regulations is the need to pay all non-exempt workers a wage of 150% standard wage for all hours worked above 40 in a standard 7-day week.
Companies often misclassify eligible employees to avoid needing to pay them their increased overtime wage. With the current state minimum wage standing at $5.15 per hour, all hours worked overtime should garner an employee at least $7.73 per additional hour.
If you believe that your current or previous employer violated your rights under FLSA or any state statutes, contact an attorney today. A lawsuit can be filed to recover all previously withheld wages for standard and overtime work, call today at (855) 754-2795.