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What Texas Oil Field Workers Need to Know About Compensation

The Permian Basin and Eagle Ford shale represent two of the biggest sources of economic opportunity in Texas. Not only do oil operations in these areas generate enormous revenue, they also create much-needed jobs.

Of course, none of this wealth would be possible without the labor of Texas oil field workers. Unfortunately, that labor is often under-compensated. If you work in either Eagle Ford or the Permian Basin, your employer may be denying you wages and benefits that you are legally entitled to.

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Common Oil Field Worker Pay Violations

Below are some of the most common schemes that your employer might be using to pay you less than you have earned:

Off-the-clock violations: Workers sometimes spend hours being driven to and from the work site each day in company-provided transportation. Too often, it is not compensated. If your job requires significant travel, you should be getting paid for that time. This is also true of other required work currently being done off the clock.

Worker misclassification: Your employer may try to classify you as an independent contractor to avoid paying overtime. But there are specific criteria needed to justify classification as an IC. If you were misclassified, you may be entitled to back pay and other damages.

Day-rate pay with no overtime: Getting paid a fixed daily rate or per-job rate only works to your advantage on days with light work and reduced hours (and these tend to be the exception rather than the rule). Often, getting paid a daily rate results in lower pay because a 12- or 14-hour shift wouldn't net any more money than an eight-hour shift (not to mention the lack of overtime pay). Worse yet, oil field employers often refuse to pay overtime on the day rate. By offering a day rate, many employers cut their own labor costs while appearing to be generous to workers.

Per diem not counted as compensation: A per diem is meant to cover daily expenses for things like travel and food. Many companies pay a large per diem that is much higher than you would need for daily expenses. This may not be as generous as it seems, because your employer might be using it to decrease your hourly wage and overtime pay, because, of course, the employer doesn't include the per diem when determining your hourly pay for purposes of calculating overtime. Any per diem higher than what you actually need should be considered compensation, and compensation needs to be calculated in overtime pay.

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How Our Firm Can Help

Our practice is in the Austin area, which situates us perfectly in Central Texas, allowing us to represent oilfield workers from both the Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin.

The statute of limitations for FLSA claims is two years (sometimes three). Employees who prevail on their FLSA claims could recover all their back pay during that time, double back pay, and attorneys' fees. If you'd like to discuss a pay practice that may violate the FLSA, contact us at (512) 782-2293 for a free consultation. You can also send us an e-mail

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