New York and Pennsylvania Fracking Overtime Lawsuits

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, hydrofracking, or hydrofracturing, is a technique employed by natural gas and oil companies to extract natural gas and oil. Fracking is an alternative to the conventional method of drilling for oil and gas. There are over 300,000 fracking wells in the United States that pump approximately 4.3 million barrels of oil per day. However, in recent years, fracking has come under scrutiny due to health concerns and increased earthquake risk caused by the wastewater produced during the fracking process.

Unfortunately, workers in the fracking industry are often subjected to safety and health risks, such as silica chemical exposure that may lead to what workers call “frack hack.” In addition to the health risks fracking workers take, fracking companies often pay their workers improperly. Fracking workers often do not criticize how they are paid because their pay structures have been established in the oil and gas industry for years.

Fracking workers, and workers in the oil and gas industry in general, are often required to work over 100 hours per week. However, fracking companies often fail to pay their workers overtime compensation, and when they do pay overtime compensation, the rate of pay may be miscalculated. Fracking workers are entitled to overtime, which should be calculated at time and one half their hourly rate. For example, fracking companies may pay its workers in the following incorrect ways:

  • Day Rate – fracking companies often pay workers a “day rate” for extended shifts
  • Salary – fracking companies may pay a weekly or monthly salary, instead of paying workers hourly and overtime
  • “Straight Time” – fracking companies may pay workers straight time for overtime where the worker receives the same hourly rate for overtime, instead of 1.5x their regular rate
  • Independent Contractors – fracking companies often misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime

Additionally, many workers in jobs related to the fracking industry may have been subjected to pay violations. For example, CDL Drivers, Mechanics, and Laborers at Waste Management companies who handle or transport fracking waste are often improperly compensated. Recruiters at staffing agencies who recruit workers for fracking jobs are often subjected to misclassification or other overtime violations.

What Fracking Jobs Are Usually Affected?

Fracking jobs that often are not paid correctly include:

  • Frack Fuelers
  • Heavy Equipment Operators / Fork Lift Operators
  • Service Supervisors
  • Maintenance Managers
  • Loadout Coordinators
  • Nitrogen Operators
  • Shop Mechanics
  • Field Chemists
  • Shop Mechanics
  • Top Drive Technicians
  • Inspectors (electrical, pipeline, welding)
  • Pumpers
  • Field Office Clerks
  • Lease Operators
  • Fluid Techs
  • Water Truck Drivers
  • Coil Tubing Operators
  • Safety Coordinators
  • Frack Equipment Operators
  • Laborers – Water Transfer
  • Roustabouts
  • Roughnecks
  • Drillers
  • Tool-pushers
  • Drilling Mechanics
  • Draftsmen
  • Landmen
  • Field Coordinators and Field Engineers
  • Mud-pusher
  • Wireline Operators
  • Wireline Supervisors
  • Flowback Operators

What Protections Do Fracking Workers Have?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers must be paid overtime when working over 40 hours per week. Workers in the fracking industry are frequently required to work well beyond 40 hours per week, as such these workers have protections under the law. While companies are free to require workers to work over 40 hours, the law requires them to pay workers overtime compensation at time and one half their regular rate of pay for every hour worked above 40 per week.

If you are a current or former employee in the fracking industry and are unsure about your pay structure, please call the experienced employment attorneys at Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, for a free phone consultation. Our attorneys will address your concerns and discuss whether you have a wage claim. You can reach our attorneys at (212) 300-0375, and you can visit our website for more information.

Examples of Recent Lawsuits Brought by Fracking Workers

  • Calfrac Well Services settled for $6 million with fracking workers in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Colorado, and Arkansas, who alleged that the company incorrectly calculated their overtime rate of pay. Allegedly, the company based the workers overtime rate on the workers’ salaries, but failed to include the workers’ bonuses in that rate.
  • Fluids and Waste Technicians and Solids Control Technicians in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Dakota settled with Aerion Rental Services for $1.1 million following a lawsuit alleging that the company paid workers a “day rate” with no overtime pay.
  • Fracking operations truck drivers for Native Oilfield Services were awarded over $3.7 million for unpaid overtime following a lawsuit brought by workers in Texas.
  • Current and former workers at Weatherford International alleged that the company misclassified fracking service supervisors working at Weatherford offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as nonexempt employees. The lawsuit seeks to recover overtime compensation for workers who sometimes worked over 100 hours per week.
  • A lawsuit filed in Delaware against Maxum Petroleum Operating Company, a subsidiary of Pilot Flying J alleges that the company failed to pay frack fuelers overtime. One frack fueler alleged that some weeks he worked in excess of 100 hours, but was only compensated a flat rate of $300 per day. Maxum recently settled lawsuits filed in Texas and North Dakota by workers seeking overtime, but the dollar amount the company will pay the workers is confidential.
  • A Marcellus Shale driller, Superior Energy Resources, settled a lawsuit by workers who alleged that the company required workers to attend mandatory safety meetings before and after their shifts, but did not compensate workers for those hours.
  • Keane Frac GP supervisors recently filed a lawsuit alleging that the company paid supervisors an hourly wage, and monthly bonuses based on revenue, but did not include the bonus payments into the workers’ regular rate of pay, for the purposes of calculating overtime. In 2015, the company settled a Pennsylvania lawsuit for $425,000 with workers seeking overtime.
  • A Pennsylvania court recently ruled that truck drivers (“Water Haulers”) at Fast Rig Support and First Americans Shipping and Trucking, who transported water used in fracking operations in Pennsylvania, were entitled to overtime.

The Fracking Industry in NY and PA

Historically, fracking has been a big industry in New York (NY) and Pennsylvania (PA) due to the states’ position on the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale. In 2015, Governor Cuomo announced a complete ban on fracking in New York State. However, if you held a fracking job in New York previously, you may still be eligible to bring a claim. Since the law limits the time you have to bring your claim, contact us immediately for a free consultation.

Previously, fracking had opened up many jobs for workers in both Pennsylvania and New York. Currently, certain Pennsylvania counties are especially saturated with drilling operations, and fracking jobs, such as, Washington, Bradford, Susquehanna, Greene, Lycoming, Tioga, Butler, Fayette, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and Armstrong.

Fracking companies use deep injection sites to dispose of waste water produced during the fracking process. Deep injection sites are located in Pennsylvania’s Erie County, Warren County, Beaver County, Clearfield County, and Somerset County. Fracking waste disposal sites in New York State are located in Allegany, Chemung, Steuben, Seneca, Niagara and Onondaga counties.

Often fracking waste produced at Pennsylvania drilling sites is transported to these New York State sites for disposal. Current and former employees for companies related to the fracking industry, who have questions about their pay should contact Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, (212) 300-0375.






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