Texas Construction Worker Overtime Pay: Construction Boom Leads to Increase in Wage Theft
Like everything else in the state of Texas, the oil and gas boom has had a ripple effect on the construction industry, which is growing by leaps and bounds, just to keep up with the flow of workers coming to Texas to take advantage. And while its growth serves as yet another major economic engine for the state, it brings with it a lot of pitfalls, as well. Among those pitfalls is the apparently widespread practice of wage theft.
The Workers’ Defense Project has been working in cooperation with researchers at the University of Texas to produce a report that examines the state of working conditions in the construction industry in the state. For more than a year, researchers went to Texas construction sites and interviewed hundreds of workers. They gathered lots of information regarding pay, benefits and working conditions, as well as workers’ employment and residency status. What they found out was that many workers didn’t understand their rights under Texas law, and were being exploited as a result. Most of the time, they were forced to walk away with pay that was far below the minimum wage. A number of workers weren’t paid at all.
Another problem they found was something of an institutionalized pattern of misclassification of workers as “independent contractors,” rather than employees. Researchers found that 41 percent of construction workers had been misclassified that way. By doing so, construction contractors are under the impression that they don’t have to pay any payroll taxes, workers’ compensation or overtime. That notion is mistaken.
According to federal and Texas law, every worker they hire, even for a day, is considered an employee of that company, and every one entitled to all of the protections that entails, including minimum wage and overtime laws.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act protects such workers from wage theft, and determines who is entitled to fair pay, including overtime, and who might be exempt. The Texas Employment and Overtime Wages Lawyers at Hill Law Firm have worked with many people determining whether or not they are entitled to minimum wage protection and overtime pay.
The Department of Labor website is full of information workers can use to make sure they are paid correctly for the work that they do. If you are making less than the minimum wage and/or working more than 40 hours a week, please take a moment to educate yourself on the provisions of the FLSA. If you have any questions, please contact the Texas Overtime Wage Theft Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today for a free consultation.