I have handled many travel time cases and can report, regretfully, that plaintiff-side lawyers are always seeking new and creative ways to make certain kinds of travel time compensable. A new case has been filed on this issue where oil and gas workers claim they are owed overtime for travel between company housing to their job locations. The case is entitled Copley v. Evolution Well Services LLC, and was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
The Complaint alleges that the named plaintiff and other employees were “on call” and compelled to live in company-specified housing. They then had to meet at the beginning of each work day and ride in Company vehicles to the job sites, some of which were an hour distant. The workers lament, however, that they were only paid when they arrived at the job site and started working.
The Complaint asserts that “on any average day, Mr. Copley would be required to arrive at the pickup location, where and others would be transported to a location determined by the defendant. … Mr. Copley had no option to choose to live closer to the worksite, nor did he have the option to transport himself to the worksite. This pick up point was the start of Mr. Copley’s work day, and the subsequent commute via company mandated transport was time that Mr. Copley was ‘clocked in’ for, however he was not paid for any time during this commute, again equaling up to 2 hours per day on average.”
The Complaint asserted the men lived in Company provided housing, then met at a pick-up point and were then transported to the job site every day. At the end of the day, they were taken back to the pick-up point and then transported back to the Company housing. The drivers were paid but the men who were transported as passengers were not. The Complaint alleges that the time should be “hours worked” because the men were allegedly required to be on duty or at a “prescribed work place,” meaning that they were in a travel “work” status.
The case is couched as an overtime case because the alleged compensable travel time pushed the weekly hours beyond forty. The Complaint asserts that “when the time between his reporting to the designated location for transport and his arrival at the jobsite and his subsequent transport at the end of the day is added to Mr. Copley’s number of hours worked, the total surpasses 40 hours worked in one week.” There are 5-10 workers alleged to be in the putative class.
When workers are sent to a distant location and are staying at a hotel, that hotel then becomes their “home” for purposes of determining whether a particular commute from home is somehow converted to compensable time. Further, there are cases standing for the premise that when workers have to go to a meeting place or pick up location to then be transported to the job site, the fact that they go to a meeting place does not convert that time to working time. In sum, this case goes nowhere.
Nor should it…