The Leichter Law Firm’s Labor & Employment Law practice group represents clients in a wide range of employment related areas. We represent physicians, nurses and other licensed professionals rather than hospitals, corporations and other large businesses. Typically, we limit our practice to the representation of Texas employees in cases against employers. Our clients receive the attention of a Board Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialist. Our Texas employment attorneys argue aggressively for workers’ rights. Because we work primarily with employees, rather than employers, we do not need to concern ourselves with losing business clients. This enables us to fight tirelessly for employees. and take on the most difficult labor law complaints.
In addition, our clients also benefit from an entire team of qualified legal professionals. We are dedicated to leveling the playing field and bringing justice to those willing to stand up for their rights. Our Texas employment law attorneys represent clients in the following areas:
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which requires that most employees who work more than 40 hours in a week receive overtime pay. This law is often ignored or misapplied by employers. Employees often fail to receive payment of overtime wages to which they are legally entitled. Common misconceptions are that all salaried employees, licensed professionals, and independent contractors are not entitled to overtime. While these assumptions are sometimes true, they often are not and the worker is unlawfully denied earned wages. Our qualified overtime attorneys help you recover these amounts when they are in fact owed.
Many states, such as Texas, are “employment at-will” states. This generally means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any lawful reason. This does not mean that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason. A variety of state and federal laws protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment. This includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
Whistleblowers serve a very important role in society. Employees who report an employer’s illegal or unethical conduct protect others from financial fraud and physical danger. Therefore, to encourage employees to report illegal activity, financial fraud, and safety violations, the government has enacted “whistleblower” laws to protect (and sometimes compensate) employees who report such conduct. Examples of protected whistleblower activities are:
- Reporting the falsification of financial documents and other fraudulent accounting activities by corporations.
- Notifying authorities of safety and environmental concerns to agencies such as OSHA.
- Reporting Medicaid fraud and other illegal billing practices by hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers.
- Notifying relevant authorities by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers of abuse, neglect, or other substandard medical care provided to patients.
- Employees that notify relevant authorities of these types of violations are protected from adverse employment actions.
Breach of Contract
Many states, including Texas, are employment at-will states. However, employment and other business relationships may not be terminated in violation of enforceable contracts. Licensed professionals are often employed or otherwise associated with a group or partnership by means of a valid enforceable contract. When that individual is terminated or ousted from their group they will have legal remedies available such as claims for money damages and possibly injunctive relief. Our qualified Texas employment law attorneys can assist clients in this area of the law.
Employment agreements often contain provisions prohibiting an employee from practicing their chosen profession. It is usually within a particular geographic region for a certain amount of time. These agreements may also seek to prohibit the solicitation of the former employer’s clients or patients. It could also prohibit the disclosure of its confidential information, and the “raiding” of its employees. Enforcement of these non-compete agreements can effectively deny a person the ability to earn a living. The law in this area is complicated and open to various interpretations depending on any given factual scenario. The law is even more complicated when it comes to non-compete agreements when they pertain to physicians. Whether these agreements are enforceable turns on a number of different factors.
Our Texas employment law attorneys are qualified to counsel clients regarding these issues. We challenge the enforcement of these agreements under appropriate circumstances.
In some situations, it is illegal for employers to fire their employees. This is called wrongful termination. There are many reasons that the law might consider a termination wrongful. The most common scenarios include:
- The employer is in violation of terms of the employee’s employment contract by firing him or her.
- Termination is motivated by illegal discrimination.
- The employer is retaliating against a worker after they filed a workers’ compensation claim.
- Termination is in retaliation against an employee’s whistleblower complaint, or an employee’s refusal to perform an illegal act.
The most common fair pay issues concern:
- Overtime pay
- Minimum wages and commissions
- The current minimum wage requirement in Texas is $7.25 an hour
- Issues related to tipped employees and commission employees
- Equal pay for men and women
- Alterations to benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Many workers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime wages. Yet, their employers try to bend the rules in order to deprive their employees of their hard-earned wages.
For example, there are special laws for tipped employees. If part of your wages regularly includes tips, the total of your tips plus your hourly rate must be at least the minimum wage requirement. You are eligible for overtime. However, the overtime calculation is sometimes different than it is for other types of workers.
Some employers attempt to reduce their tax liability and deprive their workers of fair wages and the benefits of being an employee by misclassifying them as independent contractors.
Independent contractors enjoy few, if any, protections under federal and state law against:
- Wrongful termination
- Unlawful discrimination
Independent contractors are not treated like employees. Independent contractors are usually ineligible to participate in valuable company-sponsored benefits, such as stock options, 401(k), group health insurance, or other fringe benefits.
Most companies provide an employee handbook with a policy statement on harassment and discrimination in the workplace. They establish reasonable policies on harassment in order to comply with Federal Labor Laws and Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964. If you faced sexual harassment at work and your job does not have internal complaint procedures in place, you should contact an employment law attorney to learn about your legal rights in a workplace sexual harassment situation.
Texas labor law experts
The employment law attorneys at the Leichter Law Firm frequently handle unpaid wage claims, sexual harassment cases, wrongful termination claims, and other fair pay issues.
Texas Oilfield Overtime Attorney
Individuals employed on oilfields work long hours, but employers often unfairly deny them the overtime pay they are owed. There is a common misconception that a worker who receives a salary or has the classification of an independent contractor is not entitled to overtime pay. Many 1099 employees and other workers, including field service engineers and technicians, tool pushers, and mud engineers should receive overtime pay, but don’t. Employers in the oil and gas industry often misclassify workers as exempt employees when they are not. If your employer denies you overtime wages that you are owed, the Texas oilfield workers overtime lawyer at the Leichter Law Firm PC can help you receive the money you deserve.
Our team of experienced lawyers at Leichter Law Firm PC is dedicated to ensuring that oilfield workers receive the pay they deserve for their hard work. Over the years, we have been successful in helping workers across a wide variety of occupations—including oilfield workers—collect the wages to which they are entitled. We understand that hard work deserves compensation and that those who try to deprive you of the money you have earned need to be held accountable. We are so confident in our ability to collect the compensation that you are owed that we do not take payment until you get your wages.
Our team of experienced attorneys includes Board Certified Labor and Employment Specialists, so you can be assured that we will get results. If your employer is withholding your wages and refusing to pay you overtime, contact the highly qualified attorneys at Leichter Law Firm PC today. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call 1-833-OT-WAGES, fill out a contact form, or start an online chat on our website now.
Possible Employer Violations
Employers often use illegal means to deny their workers the additional overtime pay they earned. Common violations include:
- Denying overtime to salaried employees. Receiving a salary, rather than an hourly wage, does not automatically exempt you from overtime pay.
- Paying flat rates, day rates, or shift rates instead of considering how many hours the employee worked, therefore failing to pay additional time and one-half for overtime.
- Improperly labeling a worker as an independent contractor when they are not. Agreeing to contract work does not necessarily mean you are barred from receiving overtime pay.
- Improperly applying overtime exemptions. The title of “supervisor” or “manager” does not mean you are not entitled to overtime pay.
- Failing to pay for time spent working off the clock, before and after scheduled work shifts. Employers generally must pay workers for travel time from the shop to their first job site, travel time between job sites, meetings (including safety meetings), prep time before jobs, and paperwork done at home.
- Not including bonuses and extra pay in overtime calculations.
Workers should know what money they deserve and require employers to compensate their work fully. Meet with a qualified attorney at Leichter Law Firm PC to discover if your employer is paying you less than you deserve.
Fair Labor Standards Act
While many employers within the oil and gas industry try to justify withholding overtime pay to employees based on some of the common violations listed above or because they feel their workers are already well compensated, these actions are wrongful and a violation of the law. Employers in the oil and gas industry are legally required to pay oilfield workers overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The FLSA is a piece of federal legislation passed to protect workers from being exploited and denied their wages, including overtime pay. The Act mandates that employees must be paid no less than minimum wage for hours worked and that they must be paid premium for overtime hours worked.
Although not all employers are required to adhere to the mandates of the FLSA, enterprises involved in the oil and gas industry have repeatedly been found to fall within the scope of businesses that must follow the FLSA.
The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to employers who have at least two employees and have an annual dollar volume of sales or business done of at least $500,000, and hospitals, businesses providing nursing or medical care for residents, schools, preschools, and government agencies.
Based on these requirements, and previous findings by those enforcing the FLSA, it is safe to say that the vast majority of oil and gas companies are obligated to follow the mandates of the FLSA. Most companies will employ more than at least two people and annually conduct business in the amount of $500,000 or more.
While not all employees are entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA, it is well established that oilfield workers are protected. Furthermore, even though oil and gas employers may try to wrongly classify a person’s work and responsibilities to assert the worker is not protected under the FLSA, this tactic has failed when brought to court. As such, if an employer within the oil and gas industries fails to pay their employees properly, they are violating federal law and can be held accountable.
Overtime Under the FLSA
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, overtime hours are those worked in excess of 40 hours in a week. The FLSA assumes that oilfield workers are entitled to overtime wages for all hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek at a rate of at least one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular pay. While different workweeks may be established for different workers and do not necessarily have to coincide with a calendar week, a company’s workweek must be a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (i.e., seven consecutive 24-hour days). Averaging hours over two or more weeks is prohibited. The Act does not mandate overtime pay for weekends, holidays, or regular days of rest unless the hours worked are overtime.
The only way an employer within the oil and gas industry can get away with not paying overtime is by proving that an employee is within a very narrow range of personnel not covered by the FLSA. As discussed above, oilfield workers repeatedly have been found to be covered by the FLSA.
Oilfield Employee Recourse
If an employer is found to have violated the FLSA by not properly paying their oilfield workers, the employees may be entitled to back pay for up to 2-3 years, liquidated damages, and attorneys fees.
While an employer may try to get out of compensating an oilfield worker for back pay by claiming they do not have the worker’s pay records, employers must keep certain accurate records for at least three years, including the following:
- Time and day of the week when employee’s workweek begins
- Hours worked each day
- Total hours worked each workweek
- Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (e.g., $9 per hour, $440 a week, or piecework)
- Regular hourly pay rate
- Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
- Total overtime earnings for the workweek
- All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages
- Total wages paid each pay period
- Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment
- Payroll records
- Collective bargaining agreements
- Sales and purchasing records
Additionally, employers of oilfield workers and non-exempt employees must keep a record of how wage computations are determined for up to two years
If an employer fails to keep proper records and is found in violation of the FLSA, an employee may still get back pay based on the worker’s records of pay and hours worked.
There are many of factors to consider when deciding to file a claim against an employer for overtime wages, and that is why it is best to consult with a knowledgeable attorney from Leichter Law Firm PC.
Texas Oilfield Overtime Lawyer
If you are an oil or gas worker, field service technician, or field worker who has worked more than 40 hours per week without additional compensation, speak with our qualified overtime attorney today. Our Board Certified Labor Law Specialist can help you figure out the money your employer owes you.
Do not allow your employer to continue getting away with denying you the money you have worked so hard to earn. Call our experienced overtime pay lawyer at Leichter Law Firm PC if you are concerned that your employer is not paying you the overtime you deserve. Call 1-833-OT-WAGES or fill out a contact form to schedule a free and 100% confidential consultation with us today.