We have recently received many inquiries about wage and hour laws from people who working in the natural oil and gas industry. People are often complaining about not being paid what they are owed. This is unfair and illegal. If you have questions about wage and hour laws in Pennsylvania, call Goodrich & Geist.
Two trucking companies that deliver to natural-gas drilling sites in Pennsylvania are not going to be able to escape the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) overtime rules. It has been found that the trucks' transport of water within Pennsylvania is not that vital to Pennsylvania commerce to come under overtime exemptions that are outlined in the federal government's Motor Carrier Act.
A PA District Judge has rejected defendants Fast Rig Support and First Americans Shipping and Trucking in their motion to dismiss an action filed. The judge has found that the Motor Carrier Act's exemptions from the FLSA's overtime provisions do not apply.
The plaintiffs are drivers for each trucking company. The drivers were responsible for delivering fracking water to gas-drilling sites throughout Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs alleged that they often worked more than forty hours per week, but were not paid overtime rates until they hit 45 hours a week. The parties have agreed that both the FLSA and Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) claims would be combined into a collective action. The defendants moved to dismiss the claims, arguing that the Motor Carrier Act gives the Secretary of Transportation authority over interstate transportation activities that ultimately affect safety on public roadways.
In order for the Motor Carrier Act's overtime exemptions to apply in this instance, the defendants had to prove the fracking water being transported was "private property" under the act, and that the intrastate trips constituted practical continuity of movement in interstate commerce. It was found that water could be considered property for the purposes of the Motor Carrier Act, but that there was not enough evidence to show the transportation of the water was synonymous with "practical continuity of interstate commerce."
The Motor Carrier Act doesn't address the definition of "property." In addition, no court has determined whether or not fracking water is considered property. The companies argued that the water is key to the fracking process, while the plaintiffs said it is non-recyclable debris, considering it can't be reused after it goes through the fracking process.
We will be closely followed this case as it unfolds. If you have questions about wage and hour, or you are a natural oil or natural gas employee and you think you are not being fairly paid, call the Pennsylvania wage and hour attorneys at Goodrich & Geist today for a free consultation at 412-766-1455.
Source: TheLegalIntelligencer.com, "Fracking Water Transportation Falls Under FLSA Overtime Rules" 2 July 2015