Oil and gas employers face unique legal challenges. Because the nature of work in the oil field and on pipelines is cyclical and requires flexibility, it is often necessary for companies to rely on both independent contractors and employees. This novel compensation structure often makes companies targets for class action litigation by plaintiffs’ lawyers, who do not always understand the industry and the nuances of the two professional roles.
To that end, oil and gas companies must be careful to not exert too much control over independent contractors so that they are actually deemed employees in a legal proceeding. By contrast, many highly skilled employees who are exempt from overtime must be paid a weekly guarantee and perform exempt duties to eliminate an employer’s liability.
Given these complexities and the high salaries involved, plaintiffs’ lawyers continuously look for ways to attack employers for perceived violations.