$70,701 in Back Wages for Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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.

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