Overtime exemptions can be difficult to determine. Have you ever thought you might just call up your friend who works for a large nationally known corporation and ask how they classify certain types of workers? I mean, after all, the big guys have all of the money and can afford to pay expert employment law attorneys to advise them on such tricky matters as whether or not overtime must be paid to particular workers. Right? Read on and find out the answer many people dread to hear.
In one of the largest recoveries of overtime wages in recent years for the U.S. Department of Labor, oil and gas service provider, Halliburton, has agreed to pay $18,293,557 to 1,016 employees nationwide. The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigated Halliburton as part of an ongoing, multi-year compliance initiative in the oil and gas industry in the Southwest and Northeast.
Investigators found Halliburton incorrectly categorized employees in 28 job positions as exempt from overtime. Following their incorrect interpretation of the DOL’s overtime exemptions, the company did not pay overtime to salaried employees working as field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisers, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. This non-payment was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The company also failed to keep accurate records of hours worked by these employees.
Halliburton is a very large employer. They have often been in the news in recent and past years. If I had a friend who worked HR or payroll for a company of this size, I might expect to be able to ask some questions and model my employment law policies and procedures after theirs. I might feel secure that I’m OK since they can afford the big dollar advice I cannot. Make sense?
Well, this would seem to be a plausible theory. However, the proof seems to indicate otherwise. As a matter of fact, the big guys are quite often spanked by the DOL, IRS or lawsuit decisions over matters that would seem to be very much avoidable. Halliburton does not stand alone on a long list of giants who have been (and probably still are) doing it wrong. Walmart, Kohls, Lowes, Home Depot, Abercrombie & Fitch, LinkedIn, Uber, Lyft, and Sears are just a small number of large employers who could not have been relied upon to correctly advise your small-ish business.
So, next time you think about calling up your big corporate friend to ask for advice on virtually anything, think again. Do your own research. Pay your own attorney or consultant. But, never end up at the mercy of someone else’s error.
Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!