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News Release

U.S. Labor Department Sues Rife Industrial Marine to
Recover Nearly Two Million Dollars in Overtime Back Wages

NEDERLAND, Texas — The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Rife Industrial Marine for alleged violations of the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), after an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found that welders working offshore had been improperly classified as independent contractors.

Back wages are expected to total almost $2 million. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division against Rife Industrial Marine Inc. and Rodney Rife, president of the company.

"Among this department's highest priorities is ensuring that workers are paid all the wages they have earned," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "This legal action on behalf of these workers involves about $2 million they are owed in back wages and puts their employer on notice that they should carefully comply with the federal overtime law in the future."

The Wage and Hour Division's investigation found that the company considered welders who were working offshore to be independent contractors when in fact there was an employment relationship, making these workers eligible for overtime compensation. Additionally, the company failed to properly pay overtime to its regular employees or to maintain accurate records of employees' wages and hours of work.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked more than 40 per week. The law also requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained. For purposes of the FLSA, there are a number of factors for determining whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee. In this case, the Wage and Hour Division found that company's workers did not meet the legal factors for independent contractor status.

The Houston district office of the Wage and Hour Division conducted this investigation and the department's lawsuit was filed by the Solicitor of Labor's regional office in Dallas.

For information about the Fair Labor Standards Act, call the U.S. Department of Labor's toll-free help line at (866) 4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the Wage and Hour Division's office in Houston at (713) 339-5500. On the Internet, visit


Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
December 19, 2006