Many of us consider the days of manual laborers toiling away for fifteen hours a day for low pay to be long gone. However, one recent class action lawsuit alleges that such is not the case. Chris Elliot filed a class action lawsuit against his former employer, Schlumberger Ltd, on behalf of himself and all other equipment operators and trainees as well as other employees performing similar jobs for the company in North Dakota. The company provides technology and other support services for oil and gas companies.
In his complaint, Elliot alleges that he regularly worked 16-20 hour days. “Consequently,” the complaint alleges, “they were paid at rates lower than what the law requires.” Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, overtime is defined as any time worked in excess of eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week. Workdays lasting longer than eight hours are permitted, but only if the workweek is established such that the employees do not work more than forty hours per week. According to the complaint, Schlumberger allegedly used a fluctuating workweek to avoid paying its employees overtime. However, the lawsuit alleges that the company and the employees never had a “clear and mutual understanding” that the employees would be paid on a fluctuating workweek.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, when an eligible employee works overtime, the employer is required to pay that worker one and one-half times their normal hourly rat for all of the time that they spend working in excess of eight hours a day or forty hours a week. If, in that same pay period, the employee earns a bonus, commission, or other form of extra compensation, the statute requires that additional compensation be considered when calculating the employee’s overtime rate. According to Elliot’s class action lawsuit, Schlumberger allegedly failed to do this.
Elliot has been joined by three other workers in filing the lawsuit against his former employer and they believe that the class, if certified by the court, has the potential to consist of hundreds of members. If the plaintiffs succeed in gaining class certification, the company could end up paying at least $5 million in overtime wages, once the claims for all of the employees have been calculated.
Schlumberger insists that its employees did not work more than 40 hours in any given workweek. The company further asserts that it made good faith efforts to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and that any violations of the law “were not willful”. However, if the plaintiffs succeed in demonstrating that the company used a fluctuating workweek, without the prior knowledge or consent of the employees, the company’s argument may not stand up in court. The Fair Labor Standards Act also requires employers to maintain accurate records of all time worked by and wages paid to employees and failure to do so can mean much heavier fines for the company, if the plaintiffs are successful in proving that they were denied overtime wages which should have rightfully been paid to them.
The Chicago overtime lawyers and employment and class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against governements and large corporations such as Hyatt Hotels, Walmart and other companies for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Illinois overtime and employment lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Joliet and Romeoville. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Mt. Prospect and Schaumburg overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.