The United States Department of Labor (DOL) revealed Monday that four oil and gas companies owe $1.6 million in back wages to more than 2,500 workers across nine states.

The announcement comes as part of what DOL described as an ongoing “effort to improve labor law compliance in the oil and gas industry.”

DOL said its investigations into Jet Specialties Inc., Frank’s International LLC, Stream-Flo USA LLC and Viking Onshore Drilling LLC revealed violations of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

DOL said it has investigated 1,100 oil and gas employers since 2012, recovering over $40 million on behalf of 29,000 workers. The federal agency said its investigations show “a pattern of industry employers failing to pay workers” overtime as required by law.

“We continue to find unacceptably high numbers of violations in the oil and gas industry,” said Betty Campbell, DOL’s regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “We must ensure that employers pay workers the hard-earned wages they have rightfully earned. Employers who violate the law in their pay practices harm workers, their families and law-abiding industry employers. These cases demonstrate our commitments to ensuring workers are paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

DOL said the most common violations include incorrectly listing certain salaried employees as exempt from overtime then “failing to pay an overtime premium regardless” of hours worked, and “failing to include bonus payments workers have received as part of their regular rates when calculating how much overtime is due.”

As DOL continues its investigations, recent employment data points to significant layoffs in the oil and gas industry as companies continue to respond to the collapse of commodity prices (see Shale Daily, Feb. 9).