Anyone who has worked in the oil and gas industry understands that this field is far from steady or stable. The jobs are often dangerous and require long hours and strenuous working conditions. In addition, the industry is subject to highs and lows according to current economic conditions. Currently, oil prices are falling, and the oil and gas industry is experiencing new lows in profits and employment figures as a result.
Unfortunately for workers in Texas, job losses are occurring throughout the state. An estimated 28,300 oil and gas jobs in the state have been terminated since December 2014. This downturn, amounting to approximately 7.7 percent, is a result of falling oil prices. The price of a barrel of oil has been cut in half since June 2014. The price has not been this low since 2009, when the company was deep in a recession.
Who suffers when oil prices drop? Unfortunately, it is often those living in oil-producing states that experience the most losses. In the United States, that means Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Large companies such as Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell have already announced layoffs. Many smaller companies may follow suit if they have not already begun reducing their workforce.
In many cases, it is the unexpected loss of a job that can have the harshest impact on employees and their families. The oil and gas industry was booming in recent years. Even though the industry as a whole has always been volatile, when times are good, people tend to forget that a downturn could be just around the corner. An unexpected layoff can leave a worker reeling. Fortunately for oil and gas workers, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act was enacted to provide some level of protection from these unexpected layoffs. The Act requires that qualified workers receive adequate advanced written notice of the impending layoff. If they do not receive this advanced notice, workers can make a claim for pay and benefits. Who is eligible for the protections provided by the Act? The following is a general overview:
The protections of the WARN Act apply regardless of whether you are a salaried or hourly employee. In addition, the WARN act applies in certain specific situations. These situations include:
If you are an eligible employee under the Act and you were laid off without notice as part of a plant closing or mass layoff, it is important to contact an attorney to protect your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for pay and benefits that are rightfully yours. We are here to provide the guidance you need to ensure you take advantage of the protections of the Act. We encourage you to reach out today for more information at (713) 425-6445.