On January 11, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wage-and-hour ruling that could expose oil and gas companies to massive back-pay liability. WLF filed a brief on October 26, 2018 in support of Parker Drilling, arguing that the Ninth Circuit improperly rejected a half-century of federal case law governing the wages paid to employees stationed on off-shore oil platforms. Congress decreed in a 1953 statute that federal law governs on drilling platforms. Workers generally remain on those remote platforms for several weeks at a time. Applying federal wage-and-hour law, other federal courts have consistently held that employers need not pay drilling-platform workers for their sleep and rest time. But the Ninth Circuit held that drilling platforms off the California coast are also subject to California wage-and-hour laws (which require payment for sleep time), thereby exposing the industry to massive retroactive liability. WLF argued that the Ninth Circuit misinterpreted the 1953 statute.
WLF had also filed a brief on April 3, 2018 asking the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its ruling. Though it denied rehearing, the court agreed with WLF that on remand the district court should consider whether the new rule should be applied prospectively only—thereby eliminating potential back-pay liability.