Workers sue oil spill cleanup contractors claiming they were under paid

Michelle Keahey Aug. 1, 2011, 4:28am


Fifteen employees of DRC Emergency Services and DRC Marine have filed a lawsuit against the companies claiming they were not paid the hourly wages they were promised.

Michael Gros, Harold Cline, Wanda Jackson, Ruben Perez, Wilford Jackson Jr., Lloyd Henry, Stanley Hebert, Freddie Jackson, William Wallace, Rocky Barrois Sr., Rocky Barrois Jr., Carl Hopkins, Scott Hopkins, Joshua Lester and Edwin Honore are the named plaintiffs.

Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill, DRC contracted with BP to provide oil skimming and other cleanup services, with the employees working from the end of June 2010 until approximately Nov. 10, 2010.

According to the lawsuit, the petitioners, except Stanley Hebert, were informed that they would be paid $30 per hour when they were hired. Hebert was hired at the rate of $40.80 per hour. When the petitioners received their first paychecks, they discovered they were paid at either $20.03 per hour or $24.48 per hour. Hebert was paid only $26.70 per hour.

The employees complained and they were assured by DRC that the matter would be rectified. By the end of August 2010, the defendants had increased the wages, but not up to the promised amounts, the lawsuit claims.

The defendants have stated that the underpayments were due to their compensation from BP for the work and because BP has not paid for certain work, the lawsuit claims.

According to the court documents, DRC's alleged failure to address the issue has resulted in at least two "police-controlled interactions" between the employees and human resources personnel.

DRC is also accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal and state statutes by not paying employees for their full time, treating employees inconsistently with regard to the number of hours paid and not reimbursing employees for business-related trips.

The plaintiffs are asking for an award of all unpaid overtime compensation, penalties,
attorney's fees, the full amount of their wages for all hours work, including processing and waiting time, penalty wages for ninety days wages at daily rate of pay, other unreimbursed amounts due to the employees, all court costs and interest.

The employees are represented by Eric J. Derbes and Melanie M. Mulcahy of The Derbes Law Firm in Metairie.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-01824

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