Suit Alleges Company Misclassified Plaintiff as Independent Contractor, Failed to Pay Overtime Wages and Other Benefits
DALLAS (April 29, 2015) – The national law firm of Baron & Budd has filed a lawsuit against EOG Resources, Inc. (formerly known as Enron Oil and Gas Company), alleging the company misclassified the plaintiff and numerous other workers as independent contractors and did not pay proper overtime wages under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and employee health and retirement benefits subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). The case is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. (Case 4:15-cv-01099)
Under the FLSA, employers must generally compensate employees at a rate at least one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours they work in excess of 40 per week. While bona fide independent contractors do not have to be paid overtime wages, if the economic reality of the working relationship is that the worker is economically dependent on the company, then the worker is considered an employee under federal law and subject to the protections of the FLSA. Employee status cannot be waived. So even if the worker signs a contract saying he/she is an independent contractor, deducts business expenses on his/her tax return and even believed he/she was an independent contractor, if the economic reality show dependence on the company for which the work is performed, then the worker is likely an employee subject to the protections of the FLSA. Similar protections extend to misclassified independent contractors with regards to collecting employee health, retirement and other ERISA covered benefits.
The plaintiff worked for EOG as an environmental, air emission and functional business analyst and was paid on an hourly basis by the company. He and many other workers were labeled independent contractors by EOG, the suit alleges, and as a result did not enjoy many of the benefits of employment, including health insurance and retirement benefits as well as overtime wages.
“Although the plaintiff in this case was labeled as an independent contractor, we believe the reality is that he was a company employee,” said Allen Vaught, manager of the Employment Law Section of the national law firm of Baron & Budd. “As a result, we believe he and other misclassified independent contractors of EOG are entitled to overtime and other compensation per the requirements of the FLSA and ERISA.”
About Baron & Budd, P.C.
The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a nearly 40-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals and government and business entities in areas as diverse as dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical devices, environmental contamination, the Gulf oil spill, financial fraud, overtime violations, deceptive advertising, automotive defects, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse, and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.