A group of employees sued their employer for reducing overtime pay. Is that legal?
Turns out the employer didn’t violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In the case of Abshire v. Redland Energy Services, Roy Abshire and other drilling rig operators worked seven consecutive days on a Tuesday-to-Monday workweek and then took seven consecutive days off.
But since all other employees were on a regular Sunday to Saturday workweek, working Monday to Friday, Redland wanted everyone consistent. So it informed Abshire and others that their workweek would be changing but they’d be keeping the same schedule. The reason being, it explained, was to reduce overtime hours.
The workers’ overtime went from 44 to 22 hours. The workers believed this violated the FLSA’s overtime requirements. The regulation says that a company can change an employee’s workweek if it’s a permanent move and not done to evade those requirements.
Employer was still giving OT
When the case went to trial, the judge didn’t consider either side’s reasoning for the change – the judge just examined whether or not changing the workweek to minimize overtime evaded overtime requirements.”
Had Redland completely eliminated the opportunity for overtime altogether, then there may have been an issue. But in reality, when it comes to overtime the FLSA isn’t responsible for maximizing OT opportunities. The FLSA protects the worker’s right to overtime pay when it’s warranted.
With that, the judge ruled that minimizing OT isn’t a violation of the FLSA, so the reasoning for the workweek change was irrelevant.