Employee or Independent Contractor?

Oil Field Workers Engaged by Various Staffing Agencies Are Certified for Misclassification Class Action Against Oil and Gas Company 

oil well and sunset

From JDSupra, Richard Reibstein discusses a case in which oil field workers engaged as independent contractors by various staffing firms were certified as a class for a class action lawsuit alleging that they were misclassfiied. Richard writes:

Oil field workers providing services to an oil and gas exploration company through a number of staffing agencies has been conditionally certified by a Texas federal court magistrate judge.  The plaintiff claims that the company violated the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act due to its alleged misclassification of the oil field worker as an independent contractor and not an employee. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation maintains operations and well sites throughout the United States and contracts with third party staffing companies to acquire laborers and consultants. The plaintiff was hired by one of those staffing companies to perform manual labor for the company, including operating oilfield machinery, performing routine maintenance on oilfield equipment, and building and dissembling oilfield tools.  The plaintiff filed a motion seeking conditional certification of a collective action.  The motion was granted by a magistrate judge, who concluded that there was a reasonable basis – in this instance, declarations submitted by several oilfield workers – for crediting the assertion that other aggrieved individuals exist and that members of the proposed class are similarly situated in terms of job requirements and payment provisions. According to the declarations, the workers were all classified as independent contractors, paid a day-rate, performed manual labor, worked more than 40 hours per week, and did not receive overtime compensation. The company argued that the class members could not be similarly situated because it contracted with at least 11 different staffing companies to hire and pay workers and had no control over how the workers were paid and what terms and conditions the workers were allegedly subjected to.  Field v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., No. 4:20-cv-00575 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 15, 2020 and Oct. 29, 2020).

Source: Oil and Gas, Cable, Shopping, Pet Sitting, and Shipping Companies Lose Ground in Independent Contractor Misclassification Cases: October 2020 News Update | Locke Lord LLP – JDSupra

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