The United States Department of Labor is cracking down on energy companies operating in the Marcellus Shale, requiring them to pay nearly $4.5 million in back pay to workers.
The enforcement is part of a multiyear initiative conducted by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh. It involved 5,300 workers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The agency says it found significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Most of the problems were related to improper payment of overtime.
“The Department of Labor is committed to protecting working families who bear the greatest burden when labor standards are violated,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a statement. ”Recovering wages for these workers will help them pay the rent, buy food for the table and clothing for their children. And it will help ensure that employers who play by the rules and pay their employees the wages they have earned are not undercut by those who gain advantage by cheating the system and their workers.”
The department said some of the large companies involved include Chesapeake Energy, Citrus Energy and Anadarko Petroleum. The companies rely on subcontractors to conduct most of the work performed at well sites, and such a disjointed structure with different layers of employment can lead to more labor violations.
The Department of Labor says it is also investigating similar wage and labor violations in other parts of the country.