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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?

Ms Sparky

my image

144 Comments

  1. Comment by Peter:

    Why is this conversation still going on. I’ve been hearing this since 2004 when I first deployed to Iraq and now here it is 2011. Please people–give it up; there is no money for the OT in Iraq–period. You all made a great living all those years; stop trying to squeeze blood from a stone

    • Comment by all ears:

      Hey Peter, it is not squeezing blood from a stone as you say. Rather people are looking and also wondering why it is at the FAR regulation that specifically states that all hours over 40 hours in a week will be paid at time and a half. These people are just requesting that the rules and laws on the books be enforced. On a side note if you think that making 67K was great money in 2005 then you must be from Bubbavile! I would have made close to the 82K KBR said if I did not take my R and Rs. Everytime we took one we would not earn at least $2600 versus if we did not take the R and R. Then if you subtract the $500/month for family insurance one will get the 67K. I made 68K while I worked in the US in 2008. So no it was not great money at all but perhaps adequate compensation. Do not forget to subtract the money we did not make while in Houston. This was forced labor with no pay but promises. One would think this was against the law as Dyncorp paid for this traing in 2004 forward along with other companies. Why did KBR fail to pay the people this? Maybe KBR was illegally using the people in Houston.

      • Comment by Melissa:

        US District Judge, Melinda Harmon, ruled in Sept 2006, that KBR won the lawsuit and did not have to back pay the employees that worked in Kuwait nor Iraq because “the employees were ruled not to be entitled to overtime”. That federal wage & hour laws DO NOT EXTEND TO WORK DONE OUTSIDE THE USA. (check out the news article on chron.com)

  2. Comment by Dee Palmer:

    Ms Sparky
    I and severl other employee’s have already went as far as we can we have contacted KBR and recieved the employeement verification from them but now no one knows who this so called laweyer who is handling the suits and compensations is. We have tried all avenues and no one seems to know I see above you have stated there is a lawyer out there some where can you help me find him? A name a website an email address anything just to see if there is anything to this claim. agian KBR did not give us any issue when we requested the VOE they sent it right back in less than two hours. but now we just have some useless information. thanks in advance for any assistance you can give.
    Dee

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      KBR was forced to pay overtime to their employees who worked in Dubai not Iraq. There have been several attempts to sue KBR for overtime and uplift in Iraq and to this point all have failed. I’m sure there are other attorneys who are going to make another attempt. When that happens I will posted it.

  3. Comment by Property 1:

    KBR should be liable to pay overtime. They are an American company that should apply by american laws no matter what country they contract thru. Our goverment aways talks about keeping jobs here, what about our laws. KBR should have paid you the overtime for the harmful burn pits you had to breath when we were there. Back then everthing was mixed together and expose in the air. So KBR should be made to pay over time for those living condition. People are still coughing today.

    • Comment by Connie:

      My son worked for KBR for 4 years in Iraq and came home this past December. He built 3 of the incinerators that replaced the burn pit. These incinerators were built right next to the burn pit. He is in the hospital for the second time in one month with pneumonia and emphysema.
      clg

  4. Comment by Calvin stokes:

    I found this for LAbor laws in the CAYMEN islands That is if KBR-SEII still works out of that little office with a phone and no one there LOL this comes from the following website PleaseRead
    http://www.baraud.com/about-caymanW.php

    if my math is correct that would be 39 Hrs a week overtime for a company that is somewhere overseas.any this is what i found on the Cayman Labor laws. but who knows… just read below

    working hours for most businesses are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., although a 40-hour week is considered normal. Hours vary in certain industries, such as construction and the hotel and tourism sectors. Under the Labour Law, overtime pay is paid at the rate of one-and-a-half times the usual wage for hours worked over 45 hours a week. There are 11 paid public holidays, 10 days sick leave allowed, and employers are required to grant a minimum of two weeks vacation a year with pay, upon completion of your first year’s service. Many employers, especially the larger international banks offer more generous benefits than these.

  5. Comment by Calvin stokes:

    also i found this and it actually might be the loophole that KBR SEII might be using if SEII is actually based out of the CAYMEN ISLANDS. if so i think this does actually show some deceipt on KBR and SEII’s part. please read below and look at paragraph 4. so basically it is telling you that as an employee you can agree or disagree on overtime. Looks like KBR and SEII way out.
    http://www.lexmundi.com/images/lexmundi/PDF/LaborEmployment/Labor_Employment_DeskBook/LaborEmployment_CaymanIslands.pdf

  6. Comment by KBR Ethics Hotline is BS:

    I used my personal email and filed a complaint of a violation of KBRs COBC. Claiming SEII was doing business in an unethical and illegal manner by not following the UAE and Iraqi Labor Laws when paying their Employees. (Yes Iraq does have Labor Laws, enacted in 1987 and still valid)
    With in 4 days I was Contacted by the Senior Employee Relations Manager at VBC Baghdad, but here’s the catch. He contacted me at my KBR email not my personal account.
    So KBR’s Ethics Hotline is not operated independently and seems to be one of the way KBR keeps the fraud reports against it out of the light. And KBR will and can track your ISP address through your personal email, or what ever the tech term is for tracing you down.
    So far a lot of stone walling on my complaint. But this might be useful to someone sometime. This Senior ER Manager in one of his emails stated that SEII was an American company and was thus not subject to Labor Laws on a Government Contract while overseas.
    Anyone who wants this email string contact me through Ms Sparky

  7. Comment by Lloyd Smith:

    I was told that the KBR/SEII employees that won the class action lawsuit in Dubai used a lawyer from Dubai to file a class action lawsuit and make KBR/SEII uphold the labor laws of Dubai. That being said it stands to reason that we should find an Iraqi lawyer to make KBR/SEII uphold the Iraq labor laws and file a class action lawsuit. Has anyone talked to an Iraqi lawyer about this? I was in Tallil 2yrs., Echo 1yr. and Scania 1yr. but I had a family emergency and left Iraq in a hurry and I will never return. I was actually going to find an Iraqi lawyer and discuss these issues with him but as I said I am no longer there nor will I ever be. Could someone reading this that is still in Iraq please find an Iraqi attorney and discuss this with him? I think this is our only hope to ever get paid.

  8. Comment by J.A Peay:

    Good day, I was an accidental dismemberment insurance paying member of CIGNA..through KBR for $121.00 a month. My ID and policy number does not exsist, according to the webpage. I worked for SCII /KBR in Iraq for 2.7 years. I continued the option for monthly payments through military allotment. Is there another process that I need to address or has CIGNA changed its policies? I have my CIGNA INT card with ID and policy number..can you assist or help clear this issue for me ?. I have not canceled the allotment at this time. My last date of employment was 2007 at G-6 Diawaniya, Iraq. Regards

    JA Peay

    • Comment by Optimus Prime:

      Dude,

      Once your employment ended your insurance ended…pretty simple. The only way your insurance continued was through COBRA coverage. If you did not elect to take COBRA coverage after your emplyment ended you are shit outa luck.

      • Comment by Steve Lofquist:

        KBR does owe you. Once I was on a waiting stint at Kabul international airport or “KIA” and I got to talking to a major who just happened to be a contracting officer. During our talk she told me she asked for a KBR fire inspector and she was told it would cost 440000 a year. When , back then 2009, KBR was paying fire inspectors 122000 a year…..KBR OWES ALL OF US AND THEY NEED TO PAY

  9. Comment by KBR WATCH:

    What matters is that Local Labor Law applies is cited in KBRs contract and KBR lost more recently than 2006 and owes the workers in Kuwait the overtime.

    Camp Arifjan lawyers are also scrambling to find out how many Qui Tam lawsuits and class action suits they have on their hands.

    The Army still are not enforcing what they put in their solicitations, but then Al Capone wasn’t paying his taxes either was he. The criminale enterprise and apparatice collude with the Primes and then they just deal with the lawsuits as they arise. That is how Camp Arifjan does it’s contract administration.

    • Comment by John:

      That’s correct. Kuwait labor law applies if you worked in Kuwait after 2006.this is when the Kuwaitis required all private contractors to have a residency visa 18.this automatically puts you under the labor law.KBR lost it’s contract in Kuwait in May 2009 to Dyncorp Intl.I was there when we switched over. Dyncorp was not paying under the Kuwait Labor Law until forced to in Dec 2009.Hard to get a lawsuit against a contractor if they have left.they were and still are in Dubai when that case was won against them.

  10. Comment by Lloyd Smith:

    There has to be an attorney that would like to give it a go. This could end up being a 1 billion dollar class action lawsuit. I worked in Iraq for 4yrs while wearing my little hat, lanyard, etc.etc. Forget the OT.. that alone should be worth a million dollars.hehe They didn’t even say SEII. They said KBR..I still don’t understand that? I think the right attorney could capitalize on all the back pay we deserve. KBR and SEII should both be sued. If anyone out there can recommend a law firm that handles such matters I would greatly appreciate their phone number.

  11. Comment by Richard J Eckhardt II:

    If you didnt agree to the contract they would have sent you home and no pay for 2 weeks in Houston bummer, so who wouldnt sign the contract, yes we were still in danger the other 44 hours a week in Iraq, I would just like to see that the right thing is done, who is this attorney ? come on help !!!!

    • Comment by Lloyd Smith:

      The SEII/KBR employees won their lawsuit in Kuwait and Dubai. In Kuwait, they used a Kuwaiti lawyer to uphold Kuwaiti law and it stood. All the employes have already received their money. In Dubai… same,same…a Dubain lawyer..Dubai law..etc. IRAQ DOES HAVE SIMILIAR LABOR LAWS TO DUBAI AND KUWAIT. That being said would some Iraqi lawyer out there in cybernet land please respond to this email, head up a nice big fat CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT that is a GIMME because it has laready been won two times. Once in Kuwait and once in Dubai. It can be won in Iraq, just as well. Does anyone out there know an Iraqi lawyer that us thousands of people could hire for this. It would make them a rich man. Please help!

      • Comment by Romulus:

        Ms Sparky

        Can we perhaps get confirmation that KBR lost the lawsuit and are now supposed to pay back employees for overtime? We’ve not heard of any news, decisions and or actions against KBR telling them to compensate for all the overtime. Thank you.

        • Comment by Ms Sparky:

          The case was decided in UAE courts, I don’t know how to get copies of the decision and if they are even written in English. Perhaps one of our readers can help on this.

          • Comment by Romulus:

            I knew about the Dubai lawsuit and KBR having to pay their employees there but not so sure about the employee’s of KBR in Kuwait. Mr Lloyd Smith said earlier “All the employes have already received their money” . That statement would not be accurate as I know myself and several ex-KBR employees have not been compensated. Mr. Lloyd can you elaborate on the Kuwait decision. Thanks.

        • Comment by john:

          There has been no lawsuit won against KB R in Kuwait. only Dubai.those workers were paid back pay already.the only lawsuit I am aware of in Iraq.is one against KBR filed by TTM drivers. claiming not to be paid for overtime.it will be heard in September of this year. I know this because I was contacted by one firm.I was put on a list as a driver. but was only TTM not a driver.KBR payed me for my time in Iraq. but still owes me for time worked past 48 hrs week in Kuwait for sure.was there for two years under them.I seriously doubt any of us that were in Kuwait will see any of it. good luck to all.

      • Comment by oldymer:

        I worked in Kuwait in 2004-2005 and I never heard about this lawsuit. Any suggestions or a point of contact?

  12. Comment by Lloyd Smith:

    WANTED: ALIVE AND WELL. ONE GOOD IRAQI LAWYER THAT IS FAMILIAR WITH THE IRAQI LABOR LAWS. KBR/SEII OWES IRAQ AS WELL AS KBR/SEII EMPLOYESS. PLEASE HELP!

  13. Comment by Lloyd Smith:

    WANTED: Iraqi Attorney familiar with Iraq Labor Laws and ready to head up a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit. KBR/SEII owes Iraq money as well as it’s employees that worked in Iraq. Does anyone out there know an Iraqi Attorney that speaks english? Send him/them my way, please. Phone number, address, something. Please help!

  14. Comment by Allen Kang:

    Lloyd,
    I worked for SEII from 2005 to 2009 and KBR 2009 to 2013.
    You are correct that we worked for 84 hours with 44 hours straight pay. I remember hearing that it was cheaper for KBR to pay the US Army the penalties instead of paying us what we deserved.
    My last pay raise was in 2007. For the next 5 1/2 years, while KBR was making lots of money, all of us did not even get a pay raise.
    Yes, you are correct that Iraqi Labor Law of 1987 (Iraq Labor Code[ILC of 1987]) , which was ironically adopted under Saddam Hussein, says if you work past certain time in the day. The double time applied from 9 pm to 6 am next morning. KBR got cute. If a person worked night shift, his double time ended at midnight. After they got paid straight pay. This was a direct contravention to ILC. This is direct translation of Article 59 of ILC of 1987:

    (1) Work is divided into:
    (a) day work, performed
    between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.;
    (b) night work, performed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
    (c) mixed schedule work, performed in a period which spans the hours of both
    day and night work; in this case no more th
    an 3 hours may be performed as night work.
    (2) Working hours shall not exceed:
    (a) 7 hours of night work; or
    (b) 7 and 1/2 hours of mixed schedule work.
    (3) For work which is performed during the
    day and during the night on an alternating
    basis, a worker shall not perform night work for more than one month at a time.
    (Labor Code)
    (1) Work is divided into:
    (a) day work, performed
    between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.;
    (b) night work, performed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
    (c) mixed schedule work, performed in a period which spans the hours of both
    day and night work; in this case no more th
    an 3 hours may be performed as night work.
    (2) Working hours shall not exceed:
    (a) 7 hours of night work; or
    (b) 7 and 1/2 hours of mixed schedule work.
    (3) For work which is performed during the
    day and during the night on an alternating
    basis, a worker shall not perform night work for more than one month at a time
    (Labor Code)
    (1) Work is divided into:
    (a) day work, performed
    between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.;
    (b) night work, performed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
    (c) mixed schedule work, performed in a period which spans the hours of both
    day and night work; in this case no more th
    an 3 hours may be performed as night work.
    (2) Working hours shall not exceed:
    (a) 7 hours of night work; or
    (b) 7 and 1/2 hours of mixed schedule work.
    (3) For work which is performed during the
    day and during the night on an alternating
    basis, a worker shall not perform night work for more than one month at a time

    There is “Top 10 Dos and Don’ts ” Understanding Iraqi Labor and Employment Laws. This was published on November, 2012, from a consulting firm.

    This is their website: http://www.usbusinessiraq.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/6-Jorge_Iraq-Labor-Employment-Laws-Presentation-2012_11_27.pdf

    In the 6th page of this presentation, applicability – 2
    .
    Applicability

    Labor laws apply throughout Iraq.
    applicable to “all workers employed in the private, mixed and
    co
    -
    operative sectors” except for state
    -
    operated sectors where
    they carry out work under the supervision of the employer in
    exchange for wages.

    Applicable to all local and expat personnel working in Iraq.

    From page 6 to 12 is worth reading the preceding 5 pages is the company information. At the end of this presentation, there is a name and other contact information.

    I understand that KBR is presently fighting the Iraqi Taxing Authority. This is as they lose their contracts to other businesses.

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