SHERMAN - A gas exploration contract worker has filed a lawsuit against his employer which claims he had the same responsibilities of regular employees and therefore, should be paid as a regular employee.

Claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Sammy Gene Kinder filed suit against Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. on Jan. 21 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

Kinder was employed as a "contract" lease operator or pumper by the defendant for the past five years. Kinder alleges Encana classified him as a contractor to avoid its legal duties.

As part of his contract job, Kinder was required to drive to the worksite, which was 50 miles away. He was required to drive his own truck and maintain liability insurance.

Kinder was also required to wear a company uniform, to report in when he arrived and when he left the job site, to use company tools, to approve invoices and to attend training and safety sessions.

Kinder was offered the opportunity to do the same work as a company employee in June. He declined the offer after an attempt to obtain a pay increase failed. His last day of work for Encana was in September.

The defendant is accused of knowingly and willfully violating the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act by employing Kinder to work longer than 40 hours per work week, without paying him overtime compensation.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of all unpaid overtime compensation, compensation for employee benefits not provided under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, costs and expenses, interest and treble damages.

Kinder is represented by David Fielding, Frank Parker and Laura Hallmon of Fielding, Parkker & Hallmon in Fort Worth.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the case.

Case No. 4:11-cv-00031

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