Worker Overtime Lawsuit Ends in Major Settlement With Oilfield Engineers

Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc. agreed to settle their federal collective action suit in North Dakota. The workers’ overtime suit alleged that the company illegally denied overtime to a hundred field engineers completing their training.

Overtime Lawsuit Affects Engineers in North Dakota

Anyone approved to receive overtime payments must be paid time and a half for the hours they worked beyond 40 in a given workweek. The federal laws surrounding overtime do exempt certain workers from being covered by this protection. In this overtime lawsuit, the workers were classified as exempt from overtime protections, a claim they argue is illegal.

Workers who are misclassified and unfairly denied their pay for hours above 40 may be able to file an overtime lawsuit against their employer.

In 2015 the workers’ overtime suit was initiated by one plaintiff who argued that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act in addition to North Dakota state law.

The employees, according to the worker overtime lawsuit, were misclassified as exempt from overtime because exempt tasks were only a small portion of their workday. Misclassification issues are becoming an increasingly common claim in wage and hour lawsuits because of the types of tasks completed by the workers on a day-to-day basis.

Baker Hughes, however, responded by arguing that the workers were not eligible for overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Many of the engineers made around $100,000 and the company argued overtime exemptions for white-collar workers or highly compensated workers applied to the engineers.

The worker overtime lawsuit alleged, however, that the primary job duty of these field engineers was nonexempt work such as operating and rigging well site equipment and troubleshooting issues with that equipment. Further, argued the lawsuit, the determination and actual job duties for the engineers could have eliminated their inclusion under the highly compensated exemption of the FLSA.

In 2016 a partial approval of the request to conditionally certify the collective was achieved with a federal magistrate judge. The attorneys recently negotiated a settlement in the worker overtime lawsuit to allow the litigation to end. The collective and company did not stipulate how much would be paid to the 122-member collective in the settlement agreement.

If you believe that you have grounds to pursue a worker overtime case because you were misclassified, you may have grounds to pursue a claim with the help of an attorney.

Workers are afforded overtime protections under federal as well as state laws and misclassification or lack of awareness about the issues is not a proper defense for a company that fails to pay appropriate overtime. Those employees who work more than 40 hours in a given workweek may be entitled to overtime pay.

Contact the lawyers at Bradley/Grombacher if you believe that you were misclassified and never received owed overtime benefits.

The worker overtime lawsuit case is Jonathan G. Williams et al v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc., Case No. 1:15-CV-00049 in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.

Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.