Update: Labor officials: New Mexico, West Texas workers underpaid

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal labor officials say oil and natural gas workers in New Mexico and West Texas have been underpaid by more than $1.3 million.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division made the announcement Monday. The findings stem from an enforcement initiative launched by the division last year.

Officials say overtime violations led to the underpayment to some 1,300 workers.

Among the problems found, employers were failing to include bonus payments when calculating overtime rates, weren’t paying for time spent working off-the-clock and paying flat rates despite the hours worked by employees.

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There were also instances of workers being misclassified as independent contractors.

A regional labor official, Cynthia Watson, says there’s a misconception that because oil and gas workers typically earn more than minimum wage that they’re being paid legally.

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