Oil field workers get back pay

Although it disagrees with the finding, a Houston fabrication company will pay $137,788 in back overtime wages to 139 oil field workers after the U.S. Department of Labor alleged they had been improperly classified as independent contractors.

Oilfield Drilling Equipment & Rig Co., which does business as ODERCO, agreed to pay the back wages to avoid a costly legal battle and focus on its business, said ODERCO President Samir Ghalayini.

“It’s unfair,” said Ghalayini, because the workers agreed in writing that they were independent contractors. “We were surprised to find out that the Department of Labor said they were employees,” he said, adding that his competitors classify their workers as independent contractors.

The Labor Department said its investigation found that ODERCO paid its workers straight-time wages rather than time-and-a-half when they worked more than 40 hours a week.

The Department said misclassification of employees is an “alarming trend” that leads to wage violations, especially in industries that employ low-wage workers.