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U.S. Department of Labor Cracks Down on Overtime Violations with $18M Halliburton Settlement

Published by on November 12, 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) demonstrated the seriousness of its focus on overtime pay violations with a record-setting recovery of more than $18.3 million in wages the agency determined was due to more than 1,016 employees of Halliburton, the global oil and gas company.  The Halliburton investigation was part of a strategic, multi-year initiative […]

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) demonstrated the seriousness of its focus on overtime pay violations with a record-setting recovery of more than $18.3 million in wages the agency determined was due to more than 1,016 employees of Halliburton, the global oil and gas company. 

The Halliburton investigation was part of a strategic, multi-year initiative in which the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division focused intensively on a number of industries, among them the oil and gas sector.

In the Halliburton investigation, DOL identified 28 positions that were incorrectly classified as exempt from overtime due to the salaried status of the employees. Job titles impacted included those for field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisors, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists among others.

As part of its focus on the oil and gas industry, DOL is also investigating and educating companies throughout the industry supply chain, such as those involved in trucking, lodging, hauling and staffing.

As the DOL points out, salaried employment does not equate to exempt status:

“Simply paying an employee a salary does not necessarily mean the employee is not eligible for overtime. The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees. To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department’s regulations.”

The finding against Halliburton also pointed to the law’s requirement for proper tracking of time and payroll records, since salaried but non-exempt employees must still be paid time-and-a-half for time worked over 40 hours per week, even though their salaries are not time-based.

Laconic Lookout:

The Halliburton case demonstrates that in many circumstances, even America’s largest companies are routinely misclassifying employees. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in partnership with many state labor agencies, is intensively focusing on both employee vs. independent contractor status and exempt vs. non-exempt employee classification for investigation and enforcement. Employers should perform an intensive internal assessment to ensure that proper, defensible compliance with the law is achieved in all relevant positions and role.

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