5 workers claim Army contract was broken
By L.M. SIXEL
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Halliburton and KBR violated their contracts with the Army when they failed to pay workers in Iraq and Kuwait overtime, a lawsuit filed in a Houston federal court alleges.
The lawsuit, filed by five workers seeking class-action status, claims Halliburton and its subsidiaries shorted 20,000 to 40,000 truck drivers, cooks, mechanics and other workers millions of dollars.
"It appears to us from our investigation and talking to several hundred employees that they were required to work 80 to 100 hours a week simply because it's cheaper to have them work overtime then have (other employees) start a new week," said Ramon Rossi Lopez, a trial lawyer with Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos in Newport Beach, Calif.
Houston-based Halliburton declined to discuss the lawsuit.
"At this time, we are investigating the situation, but with litigation pending it would not be appropriate to comment further," said Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann. The Army also did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
According to the suit, Brown & Root Services signed a contract with the Army in December 2001 to provide non-combat support services.
Despite the fact that federal law does not require companies to pay their overseas workers overtime, the agreement between the Army and Halliburton required the payment of time and one-half for workers who put in more than 40 hours a week, the suit alleges.
But Halliburton and its subsidiaries required its workers to sign contracts stipulating that they would not receive overtime, according to the lawsuit, which also claims they routinely worked between 80 to 100 hours a week.
Halliburton's contract is under the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, better known as LOGCAP, which helps plan for the use of civilian contractors in wartime and emergencies.