A proposed collective action filed against Jackson Well Services, Inc. claims the company misclassified its oil and gas well workers as independent contractors in an attempt to avoid paying overtime wages. The plaintiff in the case says he worked as a flowback operator and was paid a flat rate for approximately 84 hours of work per week. Citing alleged Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations, the lawsuit argues that the defendant’s workers should have been classified as employees rather than contractors because of the degree of control the company exercised over their work. The complaint claims Jackson Well Services “hired/fired, issued pay, supervised, directed, disciplined, scheduled and performed all other duties generally associated with that of an employer,” including maintaining control over workers' hours, pay rates, job locations, time off, work policies, and company meetings.
Further, the lawsuit charges the defendant willfully misclassified employees as contractors to evade FLSA requirements regarding employee benefits. From the complaint:
“Defendant classified its employees as independent contractors to avoid its obligations to pay employees pursuant to the FLSA as well as to reap other benefits of such illegal classification such as reduced tax liability, avoiding paying workers’ compensation insurance, and other forms of insurance and to pass on Defendant’s operational costs to their work force.”
The lawsuit was originally filed in Texas and has recently been removed to Oklahoma federal court.