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KRH Misclassified Oil and Gas Well Workers FLSA Class Action

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It seems to be common for companies to misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime and other expenses they’re required to shoulder with regular workers. The complaint for this class action alleges that KRH, Inc. regularly requires some workers to put in more than forty hours per week on the oil and gas wells it services but does not pay them overtime for the work. 

A class and a subclass have been proposed for this action, for claims are made under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and North Dakota state law.

  • The FLSA Class is all current and former workers who did work for KRH associated with monitoring and maintaining oil and gas wells in the US, between January 2, 2016 and January 2, 2019, that KRH classified as independent contractors. 
  • The North Dakota Subclass is all current or former workers who did work for KRH associated with monitoring and maintaining oil and gas wells in North Dakota, between January 2, 2017 and January 2, 2019, who were classified as independent contractors.

KRH provides oil and gas well monitoring services throughout the US. Class members in this case generally work as flowback operators, extended flowbacks, or flowtesters. The work is labor-intensive and often involves days on end at a well site.

Plaintiff Jeremy Eastep was a flowback operator on oil and gas wells. He worked for KRH continuously and exclusively, on multiple well sites in North Dakota, from roughly October 2017 to January 2018. KRH required Eastep and his colleagues to work more than forty hours per week but paid them on a flat daily basis. The company commonly required them to work twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week, for a total of 84 hours.

But the work arrangement showed signs of being a regular-employee situation, rather than an independent contractor situation. KRH had control of scheduling; it hired and fired, supervised, directed, and performed duties associated with an employer. It told Eastep and his colleagues where, when, and how they were to do their work, and the work was manual labor.

KRH required the workers to turn in weekly timesheets, and it set non-negotiable rates of pay. It required them to report for work at times and places it set, required that they request time off in advance, and provided training telling them exactly how to perform their work. 

These and other conditions cited by the complaint indicate that Eastep and his colleagues were regular employees and not independent contractors. The complaint details additional conditions demonstrating that they were not exempt from overtime and should have been paid time-and-a-half rates for all hours over forty that they worked every week. 

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