All you need to do is go online to any news aggregate site to see an instance of a large corporate entity taking advantage of their workers in order to serve their bottom line. Take this story that came out in late June about temp workers dubbed, “The Expendables.” These are groups of people, mainly in the lower class, who wonder if they’ll have work today to earn enough money to support their families. They don’t have benefits of any kind, nor are they paid well. Yet, their work is what makes some of the biggest and richest countries in the world operate. We can hear about corporate profits all day, but these numbers don’t indicate how well employees of these companies are doing.
One of the most egregious examples of this is the Texas oil industry. South Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale has been doing fantastic in regard to oil production. During March of this year, the shale has produced 77 percent more crude oil than the same month the year before. Given this production, you would expect oil companies to be raking in the money, and you would be right. But what about the workers who are putting their lives at risk obtaining this oil from the ground? Have they enjoyed the same benefits that the rich oil companies have?
Unfortunately, in many cases, they have not been making any more money at all. Texas overtime laws are very clear, yet many oil companies have refused to acknowledge them. They have been paying some workers a set dollar amount for the day (a “day rate”), no matter how many hours they have worked. And what about those who do enjoy an hourly pay? Many are receiving the same pay rate for extra hours worked beyond the forty. This is wrong on so many levels, and it goes against Texas labor laws as well. Let’s take a look at these labor laws, so you know your rights:
- Minimum wage for the state of Texas after 2009 is $7.25 per hour.
- If non-exempt workers do work over forty hours, they should earn overtime pay as per Federal law. The overtime rate is time and a half.
- Employers aren’t required to offer breaks, but if they decide to do so, they must follow Federal law. This means any breaks of 20 minutes or less must be on the clock. However, lunch breaks over 30 minutes can be unpaid.
- If an employee feels that he/she has been denied overtime pay, they can recoup up to three years pay in some cases. Moreover, they’re entitled to an award of liquidated damages where they can receive twice the amount of unpaid overtime.
If you are an employee of a Texas oil company and you feel that you’re due overtime pay, you do have rights as stipulated by Texas labor laws. The most important thing is to look into finding attorneys who understand Texas overtime laws and can help you recoup your pay. The times of being bullied by big corporations are over. Stand up for yourself and get the money you rightly deserve for your hard work.
Mike specializes in handling cases regarding overtime laws throughout his professional career.