Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all hourly, non-exempt employees are entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all the overtime they spend working. It sounds simple enough, and for most workers it is, but employers need to make sure they’re including all the compensation earned by workers when calculating their overtime rate.
An overtime class action lawsuit against the U.S. division of Weatherford PLC alleges, among other things, that the oil company failed to properly calculate employees’ overtime rates. According to the wage and hour lawsuit, the company did not take into account certain bonuses (called “wellness bonuses”) that employees had earned when calculating the premium overtime compensation they should be paid when working more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week.
The class action lawsuit, which was filed in California in 2014, also alleges that Weatherford illegally denied workers compensation for the meal breaks they worked through.
Although the FLSA does not require employers to provide their workers with breaks throughout the workday, some state labor laws do, including California. Under California labor law, all hourly, nonexempt workers are entitled to one, paid, uninterrupted rest break of at least ten minutes for every four hours they spend working. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to one, unpaid, uninterrupted meal break lasting at least half an hour. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, that employee is entitled to one hour’s worth of pay, in addition to all other wages, bonuses, tips, etc. earned that day.
According to the wage and hour lawsuit against Weatherford, the oil company allegedly failed to provide its workers with a second meal break when they worked more than ten hours in a day. The lawsuit also alleges Weatherford automatically clocked employees out for their meal breaks, even when those employees did not actually take a break from their work. This means that, not only did the employees not get the additional hour’s worth of wages they were entitled to under California labor law, they didn’t even get paid straight time for those meal breaks.
A judge granted class certification for two classes that, combined, cover more than 1,700 current and former employees who worked as oil field service workers for Weatherford. Both classes claim unpaid overtime. One filed for claims under California labor law, while a federal class requested liquidated damages under the FLSA.
Rather than continue to fight the legal dispute in court, Weatherford has agreed to settle the claims for $6 million. The exact amount received by each class member will depend on their individual claims for relief, but the settlement amount allows for an average of $4,169.38 for each member of the California class and an average of about $157.96 for each member of the federal class.
By agreeing to settle the dispute, Weatherford is not admitting that it is guilty of any of the allegations contained in the wage and hour lawsuit. It’s more likely that the company has simply chosen to settle the lawsuit for a specific amount, rather than risk the hassle and expense of continued litigation for an outcome that might not be in their favor and might come with an order to pay a much larger award.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, 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 these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Orland Park and Naperville. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Waukegan, Gurnee and Oak Park 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 mis-classify 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 unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.