KBR forced to pay overtime to employees in Middle East
The vast majority of KBR/SEII employees in Iraq and Afghanistan work 7 days week, 12 hours a day for a total of 84 hours per week, every week with a few select paid holidays off. One of the biggest sore spots with employees working for KBR/SEII is the fact that KBR/SEII does not pay overtime at all or hazard pay (uplift) after 40 hours. Like the second 44 hours worked isn’t as hazardous as the first 40.
There has always been some speculation that KBR was charging the Government uplift on every hour worked and not paying it. That is clearly fraudulent and although not beneath KBR, I find that highly improbable. That would be very easy to audit, I find it unlikely the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) would have let that slide.
Several big unsuccessful lawsuits have been filed in the past regarding the overtime and hazard pay issue. I am not intimately familiar with these cases so if I am misinformed, please let me know. To the best of my knowledge these cases have been dismissed. Even though the contract we all signed appears to violate US labor laws, the ruling was…you signed a contract. Also, we didn’t work for KBR, a US company, unless of course it to the advantage of KBR that we do. We worked for Service Employees International Incorporated (SEII) an offshore shell company registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Dubai, UAE.
KBR/SEII has/had a large workforce of Americans in Dubai and the surrounding area working 24/7 to make sure KBR employees were successfully transiting into and out of Iraq and Afghanistan in support of LOGCAP. KBR/SEII payroll is also based in Dubai. Employment verification for work with KBR/SEII comes from the Dubai office . Except for the lowered uplift rate in Dubai, American expats working for KBR in Dubai signed the same contract in Houston that everyone else signed. So why were these KBR/SEII American employees recently issued overtime checks to pay unpaid overtime worked? These checks were paid retroactive and went back several years for some.
Evidently KBR was working it’s employees in violation of UAE labor laws. Even in Dubai you can not work employees 84 hours a week without paying them overtime wages. UAE labor laws state that an employee will be paid time and a quarter (1 1/4) for all hours over 48 and time and a half (1 1/2) for any hours worked between 9pm and 3am. In addition if an employee is terminated they are entitled to 20 days pay for every year worked.
I think it’s GREAT that KBR/SEII American expats were compensated retroactively for the overtime they worked in Dubai. I am sure this is no money out of KBR’s pocket. There is no doubt in my mind they will charge this back to the DoD as a “billable expense”.
What about the American expats in Iraq and Afghanistan? We obviously don’t fall under US labor laws. And there are no labor laws in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do they or don’t they work out of Dubai? When flying back into Dubai from R&R, the second you stepped out of the airport in Dubai, you were/are under the control of KBR. It got to the point that KBR forbid you from taking your own taxi from the Dubai International Airport to the KBR hotel. You had to take the KBR shuttle.
So…if you worked for KBR in Dubai they apparently owe you money. If they haven’t contacted you, I would contact them.
Maybe there is an attorney somewhere who will take another look at this overtime issue. If not a US attorney, maybe an attorney from the UAE.
ADDED January 7, 2009: Here is an additional thought. I am sure there are similar labor laws in Kuwait. What about all the people who worked 7-12’s in Kuwait for KBR and not paid overtime. Has anyone looked into that?