Oil Field Wage Theft: Drilling Managers Misclassified as “Independent Contractors” are Entitled to Overtime

November 8, 2023 - News, Unpaid Overtime, Wage Theft

In the oil and gas industry, oil companies use contract “drill site managers” or “Drill safety managers” at drilling sites to manage drilling operations and act as the “company man” on a drill site. Sometimes, these consultants oversee employees, manage budgets, complete drilling operations according to the well owner’s plan and schedule, and facilitate safety training. Contractors on a drill site, including drilling consultants, are “day rate workers” who are treated as 1099 independent contractors.  Workers who are frequently misclassified on a drilling site are:

-service technicians

-solids control operators

-mud loggers

-well control specialists

-drilling mechanics

-tool pushers

-drilling consultants

-drilling safety manger

-Well Site supervisors

-Drilling managers


-floor hands


-rig monitors

-rig assistants

As “independent contractors,” these workers are paid a day rate based for a flat 40 hours per week with no overtime pay. Under the FLSA, all hours worked in excess of 40 hours each work week must be compensated at 1.5 times the regularly hourly rate (“time and a half”).  Natural gas drillers use “consultants” as 1099 workers to run and manage drilling operations. Although the “day rates” can be as high as $1500 per day, drilling operators are subject to the scheduling of the oil or gas well owner, and are often required to work overtime. In fact, in the oil field, 12-15 hour days are common, 7 days a week. Day rate workers, even though well paid, are STILL entitled to overtime. Drilling operators are not on salary, and don’t get paid unless they work. Oil and gas industry wage theft is, unfortunately, common.

Importantly, these oil and gas workers are required to follow the well owner’s policies, procedures, checklists, timelines, and schedule. Typically, the well owner controls the work of the contract labor on the drill site, making that contractor an “employee” and not independent.

A drilling manager or oil field contract worker who makes $1,350 per day earns $168.75 per hour. Overtime for that worker should be compensated at $253.00 per hour. If you work in the natural gas or oil industry and have not been paid overtime, you may be entitled to substantial damages. Drilling operator overtime claims can be substantial. 

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