The DOL announced a wage and hour settlement with Halliburton where Halliburton agrees to pay over $18,000,000 to over 1,000 workers.  This settlement emphasizes two important points for me.  First, it exemplifies the difficulty even large, publically traded companies can have in determining whether an employee meets one of the white collar exemptions.  The announced settlement covers employees in the job titles of field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisors, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists who were paid a salary and no overtime.  Additionally, because the company treated the employees as exempt, it kept no records of the hours worked by these employees as required by law.  Presumably, Halliburton classified those employees under the executive and administrative exemption. The administrative exemption is the fuzziest and most difficult to apply of the white collar exemptions.

The other important point for any company designing or implementing payroll policies is to be reminded that just because a large, sophisticated publically traded company pays employees in a particular manner does not mean that another company should do so.  Sometimes companies make classification mistakes.  Sometimes jobs with the same or similar job titles have different duties and responsibilities at different companies and the fact that the position at one company is exemption does not mean that it should be exempt at another company.  In making the decision to classify employees as exempt, a variety of fact intensive issues must be resolved.  Consulting with experienced human resource professionals with substantial experience in evaluating exempt employees status or labor and employment counsel reduce the prospects of misclassified employees.

A link to the DOL’s press release on this historic settlement is here.

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