February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

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February 03, 2023

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February 02, 2023

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Supreme Court Will Consider Helix Day Rate Pay Case

On May 2, 2022, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to Helix Energy Solutions Group Incorporated after Helix lost before the en banc United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in a sharply-divided opinion last year.  In Hewitt v. Helix Energy Solutions Grp., Inc., 15 F.4th 289 (5th Cir. 2021), the Fifth Circuit held 12-6 that employers must guarantee their day-rate workers a minimum weekly payment that is reasonably related to the amount those workers actually earn in that timespan for their workers to be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.  This minimum weekly payment must be a predetermined amount that does not change based on the number of days or hours actually worked, if the employer wishes to enjoy the FLSA’s exemptions to paying its day-rate workers overtime.

This high-profile case had already captured the attention of employers utilizing contractors throughout the Fifth Circuit, especially throughout the oil and gas industry.  Now, the high court will weigh in on whether employers must comply with the minimum weekly payment and reasonable relationship requirements for their day-rate workers to be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime protections.

Employers throughout the country, and especially those operating in the oil and gas industry, should closely monitor this pending ruling.  As the amici explained, oil and gas companies have utilized exempt day-rate workers as common practice for decades, and imposing these arguably-additional requirements on employers departs from this long-accepted practice.  Should the Court affirm the Fifth Circuit, employers across industries and judicial districts will have to alter their pay practices—likely on a large scale.  Employers should work closely with counsel to ensure they are meeting all current FLSA exemption requirements until the Supreme Court hears this case, and to ensure compliance with the Court’s eventual ruling.

Helix has secured highly-respected Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement to present its case to the Court.  The case is Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. v. Hewitt, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 21-984.

Copyright © 2023, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 129

About this Author

Scott Nelson Houston Labor Employment Lawyer Hunton Andrews Kurth Law Firm

Scott has significant experience—and has had great success—with high-profile domestic and international employment matters, as well as complex employment and commercial litigation.

The most valuable asset of a successful business is its people. Clients look to Scott as a seasoned, trusted, and regular advisor who helps them handle their most sensitive people matters in a thoughtful, practical, and strategic manner. He helps clients achieve their business objectives, while complying with ever-changing employment laws. When litigation arises, clients trust Scott to handle everything...

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...