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Cert Filed in Hope Supreme Court Will Reevaluate Fifth Circuit’s FLSA OT Ruling

On September 9, 2021, the Fifth Circuit issued a 12-6 opinion in Hewitt v. Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc., 15 F.4th 289 (5th Cir. 2021) that clarified the requirements for day rate workers to fall within one of the FLSA’s exemptions from overtime payment.  This ruling was hotly-contested because it made clear that employers must take additional steps to properly classify their day rate workers as exempt employees, even when those employees clearly exceed the financial threshold of the highly compensated exemption.  Many expect the decision to substantially affect the course of day rate FLSA litigation in the Fifth Circuit, especially misclassification disputes within the energy industry.

The defendant oil and gas services company in this case filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court that was docketed on January 11, asserting that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling is in conflict with the FLSA and the Supreme Court’s own precedent directing lower courts to construe the FLSA exemptions broadly, rather than to take a more narrow view of them.  Helix also argued that the Fifth Circuit’s decision goes against rulings in the Sixth and Eighth Circuits, both of which ruled in favor of the employers involved, finding that the highly compensated workers involved were not entitled to overtime.

Hewitt’s response to Helix’s writ of certiorari is due February 10. The case is docketed as number 21-984 with the Supreme Court.

Copyright © 2022, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 21

About this Author

Holly H. Williamson Partner Houston  Energy Retail and Consumer Products

Holly represents management in labor and employment law litigation, contract negotiations, drug testing and arbitrations.

Holly represents clients before administrative agencies, such as the Department of Labor,  the Department of Justice, the EEOC, the Texas Commissions on Human Rights and the Texas Workforce Commission.

She serves as primary regional employment counsel to companies in the oil and gas exploration and production, oil and gas tools and service, restaurant, retail, financial, chemical, health care, drug testing and administration, transportation, and...

Savannah R. Gibbs Employment Attorney Hunton AK Houston

Savannah represents corporate clients in substantial discrimination, trade secret misappropriation, and wage and hour litigation. She guides her clients through all aspects and stages of labor and employment matters, approaching her role as advocate with each client’s specific needs and long-term goals in mind.

Before joining the firm, Savannah served as a two-year judicial law clerk to the Honorable Lynn N. Hughes in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Savannah uses her two years of experience viewing a broad band of cases...