Local oil, gas and chemical inspectors have been getting jipped out of overtime wages, according to a collective action lawsuit that was recently granted approval by a judge in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas.
According to the suit, employees for Houston-based Intertek USA, Inc. haven't been receiving their fair share since June 28, 2008.
"Intertek misclassified payments made to its employees as expenses instead of wages," says Don Foty, a Kennedy Hodges attorney who is representing the plaintiffs. "Because they were classified by Intertek as expenses, they weren't included in the overtime calculation. This was a company-wide practice."
"Some Intertek employees in Houston contacted us about a year ago and had us look at their pay records. That's when we identified that something was wrong," adds Foty.
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The oil and chemical inspection company, whose international headquarters is in London, United Kingdom, also boasts offices in Deer Park, Westport, Texas City, Baytown, Channelview, Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
The lawsuit alleges that the company watered down the overtime rates by camouflaging the income as "reimbursed expenses." Foty estimates that more than 1,100 employees have been affected. Meanwhile, Intertek has denied all wrongdoing.
According to Foty, this isn't the first time that the company has been in hot water. The lawyer says that in 2008, Intertek was nailed with a collective action after violating federally-regulated requirements for fluctuating work weeks.