Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), companies must pay employees overtime for all hours worked over forty each week, unless the workers are exempt from overtime pay under the law. The complaint for this class action alleges that Rockwater Energy Solutions, Inc. paid its oilfield workers a flat day rate and did not pay them overtime if they worked more than forty hours in a given week. It contends that these workers were regular employees and should have been paid overtime at one and a half times their normal hourly rate.
The class for this action is all oilfield workers who worked for Rockwater Energy at any time between June 15, 2015 and the final disposition of this action, who were paid a day rate for each day worked and did not receive overtime for hours worked over forty in the week.
Rockwater Energy Solutions produces oil and natural gas, throughout the US and in western Canada.
Plaintiff James Tuggle worked for Rockwater from March 2017 through February 2018. He was a production operator, testing and monitoring flowback from wells during the production phase, to make sure that there was no blockage and that the well was operating properly. For this he was paid a flat fee of $500 per day.
His normal day was a twelve-hour shift, but the complaint says that the company often required him to stay on and continue working after his shift was finished.
The FLSA requires that non-exempt workers be paid time-and-a-half for all hours over forty worked in a week. Tuggle’s work was not exempt from overtime pay, the complaint says: He was a blue-collar employee, working whatever duties his supervisor required of him, in routine manual labor and without official training or a college degree.
However, the complaint says, Rockwater classified workers like Tuggle as independent contractors. The complaint goes through a long list of items designed to determine whether workers are true independent contractors or regular employees. For example, Rockwater determined the hours Tuggle worked, set employment-related policies, and owned the equipment and supplies used. Tuggle worked continuously for Rockwater, on a permanent, full-time basis, did not have an investment in the business, and did not earn a profit on a business of his own.
The complaint concludes that Tuggle and other similarly-situated workers are regular employees, not independent contractors.