Halliburton Co. has agreed to pay almost $18.3 million total in overtime wages to 1,016 U.S. employees in one of the largest recoveries of its type in years, the Department of Labor said Tuesday.

According to federal officials, the Houston-based operator misclassified salaried employees in 28 different job positions, which included “field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisers, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists.” They were not considered eligible for overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek.

However, the company’s incorrect categorizations violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because “simply paying an employee a salary does not necessarily mean the employee is not eligible for overtime,” Labor officials said. Halliburton also failed to keep accurate records of hours worked by the employees.

Under the FLSA, employees may be exempt from overtime pay if they are paid more than $455/week. A job title does not determine an exempt status.

The misclassified jobs were found during an internal audit by Halliburton, a spokeswoman told NGI.

“During a self-audit, Halliburton identified a certain number of jobs that were misclassified as exempt,” said Halliburton’s Susan McMichael. “The company reclassified the identified positions, and throughout this process, Halliburton has worked earnestly and cooperatively with the U.S. Department of Labor to equitably resolve this situation.”

The settlement with Halliburton follows a multi-year, industry-wide compliance initiative covering the oil and gas industry.

The Labor Department “takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure workers receive the wages they have earned,” said Secretary Thomas E. Perez. “Employers who don’t pay their employees the wages they have earned don’t just hurt their workers, they undercut employers who play by the rules. That’s why we work every day to help level the playing field.”

Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has an ongoing education and enforcement initiative to address changes in the oil and gas industry, which depends on many related businesses to support operations, including trucking, lodging, water/stone haulers and staffing companies.