Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
TULSA, Okla. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $70,701 in back wages for 34 painters and sand blasters employed by Latshaw Drilling Co. LLC who had been misclassified as independent contractors and therefore denied overtime compensation for all hours worked in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“Latshaw Drilling took advantage of vulnerable workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors rather than regular employees. As a result, they were denied rightful wages and legal protections that are guaranteed under federal law,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “This practice is illegal and unacceptable.”
An investigation conducted by the Wage and Hour Division’s Tulsa Area Office found that, despite the existence of an FLSA-covered employment relationship, Latshaw Drilling classified the workers as independent contractors and paid them “straight time” wages for all hours, instead of time and one-half their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a week, as required under the act. Employees worked up to 72 hours in a week. Investigators determined the amount of back wages owed by conducting employee interviews and reviewing payroll documents.
Latshaw Drilling has paid all back wages due, and agreed to maintain future compliance by ensuring that all employees are properly classified and compensated for their full work periods in accordance with the FLSA. The Tulsa-based company, owned and operated by Trent Latshaw, specializes in drilling petroleum wells and manufacturing drilling equipment and rigs.
The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations. The practice is a serious threat both to employees entitled to good and safe jobs, as well as to employers who obey the law. Too often employees are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, and forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay. Honest employers have a difficult time competing against scofflaws. The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that employees receive the pay and benefits to which they are legally entitled, and to level the playing field for employers that play by the rules.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Tulsa office at 918-581-6303. Information also is available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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