AZA Wins Appeal for Energy Sector Company at U.S. Fifth Circuit
June 26, 2023
HOUSTON – The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Fair Labor Standards Act case summary judgment win for AZA client FMC Technologies Inc., a global provider of technology services for the energy industry.
An installation engineer at FMC made a Fair Labor Standards Act claim that he, and numerous other installation engineers like him, should not be considered salaried and should be allowed to collect overtime. He claimed he should get overtime because he sometimes received a bonus for going in the field. But a three-judge panel on the appellate court found that the engineer’s regular duties required technical expertise and he was paid a salary, making him overtime-exempt.
The engineer, who when applying his professional engineer’s license in Louisiana claimed he did sophisticated engineering work, argued that because he got a “field bonus” for occasionally checking on work out of the office, he could recharacterize his job as manual labor.
In a story about the case, Law360 (“5th Circ. Backs Oil Driller, Finds Engineer Is OT-Exempt” subscription required) noted that U.S. Senior Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote in the opinion: “These engineers work in office environments and occasionally visit offshore sites to assist with the installation of FMC equipment. Their work in the office largely consists of planning and preparing for installing the complex subsea drilling equipment that FMC sells.”
AZA lawyer Kelsi Stayard White told Law360 that FMC was thrilled with the court’s quick affirmation of the summary judgment ruling without oral argument. “The plaintiff’s position was contrary to the plain text of the regulations and sought to punish employers who give additional compensation to salaried employees,” White told Law360. White handled the appeal with AZA lawyer Todd Mensing.
The case is Hebert et al. v. FMC Technologies Inc., case number 22-20562, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, healthcare, intellectual property and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized by Chambers USA 2023 as among the best in Texas in commercial law and intellectual property; has been listed by U.S. News – Best Lawyers’ Best Law Firms as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms for 11 years running; has been named Litigation Department of the Year by Texas Lawyer three times, including for 2021; and was previously dubbed a Texas Powerhouse law firm by Law360.