Employment News & Info

When the Family and Medical Leave Act passed in 1993, it aimed to prevent the termination of employees who needed to take time off to recover from injuries. The act protected workers from being fired for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. It was seen as a victory for workers throughout the country. Unfortunately, violations of the act still occur all the time. Locally, a woman is being compensated after being fired too quickly when returning from FMLA leave.

The county of Isle of Wight must pay the equivalent of two years salary to a woman a judge says they fired too quickly after an injury. The employee injured her shoulder in a boating accident but continued to work as the economic development director of Isle of Wight for two months. When the pain in her shoulder became too much to bear, the woman used Family and Medical Leave Act to take off the month of July 2014 to recover.

Though due back August 1, the employee was advised by her doctor to take another three days of rest. When she attempted to return the following Monday, she was shocked to learn that her employer had taken her failure to appear on that Friday as a voluntary resignation. They dropped a letter informing her she was no longer employed the very day she was absent.

A judge has found that Isle of Wight moved too quickly in firing the woman and violated the Family and Medical Leave Act in doing so. The county has been ordered to pay more than $275,000 in back salary and $275,000 in damages.

We applaud the judge’s decision to award the former Isle of Wight employee this very just compensation. It is a win for anyone who has ever felt wrongly terminated after suffering an injury and missing work.

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Cindra Dowd handles employment law and personal injury cases at the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, PC. Ms. Dowd was one of the lead attorneys in the Isle of Wight FMLA case that was recently settled. If you need assistance in a personal injury or employment law matter, contact our office to discuss your legal rights.

The city of Chesapeake is facing allegations of discrimination from an African-American detective employed with the police department there. The detective has filed a lawsuit against the city of Chesapeake, the chief of police and three other officers.

The allegations stem from a 2015 incident, when the detective learned an internal investigation had been launched on his behalf. His undercover detective tactics were under scrutiny after police learned he had been sending angry text messages to an underage suspect.

The detective was reprimanded for his actions and was accused of failing to properly collect evidence. He also allegedly failed to document his hours properly and changed his schedule without authorization. The detective was transferred to a different department.

He argues he was treated unfairly, especially when compared to other white detectives who acted in a similar fashion. The captain, sergeant and lieutenant being sued are all white.

The detective says he has faced losses and emotional distress and is suing for compensatory and punitive damages. He has requested a trial by jury.

The city of Chesapeake insists no discrimination has occurred and argues that comparing his own actions to those of other white police officers is like comparing apples and oranges.

While it’s not clear whether this discrimination suit will be an open and shut case, we applaud the detective for standing up for himself legally. He remains employed by the city of Chesapeake. Many wait until after they’ve left a position to file a lawsuit.

If you’re treated unfairly in your place of work, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to a Virginia employment lawyer today to begin exploring your legal options.

Have you been a Victim of Race/Color Discrimination?

Where you denied a  job opportunity because of your race? Are you being discriminated against because of the color of your skin? These are serious situations that should be dealt with accordingly.

With a Virginia employment attorney on your side, you know your rights will be protected at all times.

For years, we’ve heard about the pollution of our planet’s oceans, but rarely have the people responsible for such pollution been held responsible for their negligence. That’s changing, thanks to the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, also known as APPS. APPS allows pollution whistleblowers to alert authorities to corporate misbehavior and receive up to half of the fine charged against the company.

In recent years, APPS has held several major companies responsible for their pollution. In 2016, Princess Cruise lines had to pay $40 million for dumping oily substances into the ocean. A former engineer on one of the cruise ships was the one responsible for blowing the whistle and stood to receive close to $1 million for his courage.

Last month, the Department of Justice secured a settlement from two companies, the Egyptian Tanker Company and Thome Ship Management after a ship dispensed of oily waste in the Gulf of Mexico. Bags of garbage were also tossed into the water. During a Coast Guard inspection, a crew member brought the misdeeds to light. He provided a written statement along with photos and video of the pollution. Thanks to his reports, the companies were fined. The whistle blower stands to receive more than $950,000 for his honesty.

Pollution won’t stop on its own. Without whistle blowers like the ones mentioned above, companies would likely continue to pollute without a second thought. Now, Princess Cruises, the Egyptian Tanker Company and Thome Ship Management will be more thoughtful about how they do away with waste.

Have You Witnessed Illegal Practices?

If you have been brave enough to reveal unsafe, fraudulent, or deceitful practices within your company, you should not be punished.  If you are aware of unsafe, fraudulent, or deceitful practices within your company, but have not come forward, you need guidance.  In both instances, you deserve the protection that the law affords you. Do not stand by and be bullied into silence by your company.

Summer jobs are an important part of adolescence, an opportunity not only to earn spending money, but a chance to learn and grow as a person. Many times, though, teens taking their first jobs are ripe for manipulating. While we’d love to believe employers have their workers’ best interest at hearts, the reality is that that isn’t always true.

A recent report from the Huffington Post highlighted the wage theft struggles fast casual employees face. Workers are Ruby Tuesday were required to complete checklists of duties before and after clocking in for their shift. Similarly, Outback Steakhouse required employees to do pre-shift work known as “Outback time.” A Papa John’s franchise in New York was found to be shaving employees’ hours by rounding down to the nearest whole number.

All of these restaurants employ teens and young adults not accustomed to advocating for themselves. Many teens are simply too timid to confront their employers about pay discrepancies. Others may not understand the complicated math that goes into determining post-tax wages. No matter the explanation, companies are routinely taking advantage of employees in fast casual restaurants.

If your son or daughter takes on a job this summer, educate them on worker’s rights. Make sure they clarify their exact pay rate before accepting a position, and help them monitor their hours. When payday comes, have them compare hours worked with the number of hours they were paid for. These are lessons that all workers should be doing, but many don’t have an adult helping them navigate unchartered waters!

Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers

If you believe that your employer has violated the law or failed to properly pay you your wages, our unpaid wage & overtime attorneys are here to help. Contact us to setup a free consultation to discuss your situation 877-544-5323.

We trust our employers to have our best interests at heart, but when the budget is cut, even the most trustworthy manager can be pressured into altering time sheets. That’s what some Richmond mail carriers say happened to their hours at the post office.

47 Richmond mail carriers have filed a complaint against the U.S. Postal Service for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. These current and former employees say they were not paid for the overtime hours they worked, and records of their time was not kept accurately.

This complaint is similar to another filed last month. Both complaints cited budget cuts and stressed out supervisors as part of the reasoning behind the unpaid overtime. “On information and belief, supervisors are instructed and/or encouraged by management not to exceed certain labor cost thresholds and incentivized with bonuses for keeping overtime premium payments low,” the complaint read.

Workers say half hour lunch breaks were automatically deducted from their hours even if no lunch break was taken. They also say they are overworked – many times, employees can’t finish their route before their shift is officially over.

For many American workers, this kind of treatment sounds all too familiar. The postal service is just one of many employers who allegedly fail to compensate their workers fairly. For employees who are overworked, lunch breaks are often impossible – and staying late is almost a guarantee. Still, they face an uphill battle from employers who are hesitant to compensate these people for their work.

These two complaints may be just the beginning for the Richmond area postal service. With more and more folks coming forward, there’s hope that the supervisors there will alter their strategies. In the meantime, we encourage anyone with concerns about being paid fairly to reach out to our team.

Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers

If you believe that your employer has violated the law or failed to properly pay you your wages, our unpaid wage & overtime attorneys are here to help. Contact us to setup a free consultation to discuss your situation 877-544-5323.

Popular ride sharing service Uber is under fire this week after a former employee blogged about the sexual harassment she experienced at the company. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has joined an independent investigation into the matter – an investigation ordered by none other than Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

The blog post that went viral this week details one female engineer’s experience while working at Uber. The nearly 3,000 word post discusses sexual harassment she faced starting from day one on her team. Her manager sought her out via instant message asking for sex. Though she took screenshots and reported the manager to human resources, the manager was not formally punished for his actions. The man was a high performer, the HR department claimed, and would only receive a warning. This was his first offense, they argued.

The female engineer was given two choices: she could leave the team and her area of expertise or face a poor performance review from the manager. She chose to transfer teams, but later left the company after experiencing more gender discrimination and retaliation. Before she left, she learned that she was far from the first woman harassed by the alleged “first offense” manager. He later left the company.

Tech companies like Uber pride themselves on being socially aware and ultra-modern, but this kind of treatment of women employees anything but.  It just goes to show that even the most contemporary of businesses can have very old school – and illegal – points of view on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Virginia Employment Lawyer

If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment discrimination, the first thing to do is report this to your supervisor and/or human resource department. From there, you will have a better understanding of how to move forward.

Remember, you also have the right to contact a Virginia employment attorney who can help protect your rights and decide if you are in position to take action.

The United States Department of Labor has filed suit against Oracle, a California-based tech company. The lawsuit alleges that Oracle discriminates against women and minorities, paying them less than white male employees. The company also hires Asian employees more frequently than other races for product development and technical roles, the suit alleges.

This comes on the heels of a two-year long investigation into the company’s hiring practices. Because Oracle is federally contracted, they’re not allowed to discriminate based on gender, race, gender identity, sexual orientation or national origin. Should Oracle lose this case, they stand to lose millions of dollars in federal contracts.

The company insists that the allegations are not true, and that the complaints are politically motivated. The Department of Labor, though, says Oracle refused to fully cooperate with the investigation and did not provide records and employment data when asked.

Unfortunately, the Silicon Valley world has a reputation for valuing certain races and genders more than others. White and Asian men dominate the tech industry, so there has been a push in recent years to diversify. Progress has been relatively slow, though. The Department of Labor has been working to investigate claims of discrimination throughout the industry.

This fall, the government filed suit against another tech company, Palantir, for discriminating against minority applicants. They also recently asked Google to provide their compensation records during an audit. The company refused, insisting they don’t want to reveal confidential data. The battle will continue on, though, as long as tech companies proceed with their unfair hiring practices.

Have you been a Victim of Race/Color Discrimination?

Where you denied a  job opportunity because of your race? Are you being discriminated against because of the color of your skin? These are serious situations that should be dealt with accordingly.

With a Virginia employment attorney on your side, you know your rights will be protected at all times.

How often do you look at your pay stub? Do you know how much you should be paid each pay period? Would you notice unfair deductions if they were occurring? It pays to be aware of your financial standings with your employer.

PNC Bank has agreed to settle an overtime suit filed by employees. The company will pay $16 million to workers who say they were not fairly compensated for their overtime work.

Four mortgage loan officers in Florida and Ohio began the collective-action lawsuit back in the summer of 2015. They alleged that the Pittsburgh-based PNK Bank asked employees to work overtime – frequently from outside the office – but discouraged them from recording the extra hours. PNC Bank also allegedly failed to properly compensate these employees for the overtime they did record. Instead, inappropriate deductions were made from employee’s paychecks.

The employees involved in the lawsuit were paid an annual salary of $24,000 based on a 40 hour work week, plus commissions. In the lawsuit, they argued that they were not exempt from overtime. Though PNC Bank has admitted no wrongdoing, they did agree to pay the 17 current former loan officers to settle the case.

Unfortunately, the suit alleges that these practices likely occurred in PNC offices throughout the United States. Far from the first time PNC Bank has gone to court over unpaid overtime, the company settled a $7 million lawsuit in 2011 after misclassifying mortgage loan officers as exempt from overtime pay.

This lawsuit goes to show how carefully employees need to monitor their paychecks. Even when on good terms with your employer, it pays to keep an eye on deductions and overtime pay. If you have any concerns about being fairly compensated for the hours you work, we encourage you to reach out to our team for a free, no-risk consultation.

Wage & Overtime Lawyers

If you are independent contractor, but your hours, work attire, pay, etc., are controlled by a client, you may be misclassified. The nature of your relationship with a client could deem you an employee, and as an employee you are eligible for benefits such as overtime pay. You could be owed unpaid wages. Contact our Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers to discuss your situation 877-544-5323.

Contact Us Today 877-544-5323.

*Prior results to do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Many of us feel overworked and underpaid: for information technology professionals, it’s not just a feeling – it’s reality.

A new survey reveals that most IT professionals work unpaid overtime each week. The survey, which includes responses from nearly 140 IT workers, was recently conducted by Lieberman Software.​ The results were shocking: 74 percent of IT professionals say they work overtime – but receive no extra compensation for their time.

34 percent say they work about 15 extra hours per week unpaid. Another 15 percent say they work between 10 and 15 extra hours. About 10 percent said they work about five to nine hours of unpaid overtime weekly. Only 26 percent of respondents said they typically return home on time.

IT professionals are the quiet heroes of most workplaces. With our society becoming more dependent upon technology than ever, companies rely upon IT workers to ensure the safety and success of their online presence. When they’re successful, IT workers are mostly unnoticed – and unsung. But when something goes wrong, these employees are the first to be blamed. Many time, they’re also the first to be asked to stay late.

The survey revealed another shocking reality: that most IT workers don’t have any professional training on new security products. Some even admitted they never use certain products simply because they don’t have the time in their day to teach themselves to use it.

This survey, though relatively small, shows just how unfairly IT workers are treated. No one should be expected to donate their free time to their employer. We encourage anyone – IT worker or otherwise – with concerns about their overtime hours to reach out for a free, no-risk consultation.

Wage & Overtime Lawyers

If you are independent contractor, but your hours, work attire, pay, etc., are controlled by a client, you may be misclassified. The nature of your relationship with a client could deem you an employee, and as an employee you are eligible for benefits such as overtime pay. You could be owed unpaid wages. Contact our Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers to discuss your situation 877-544-5323.

Contact Us Today 877-544-5323.

*Prior results to do not guarantee a similar outcome.

4.2 million workers are in a state of limbo thanks to a judge in Texas. The federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against new overtime rules that were set to effect millions beginning this month.

The new rules would require employers to pay overtime to those who work more than 40 hours in a week but earn less than $47,476 annually. It was seen as a win for anyone who has ever worked late but not been compensated for the additional time spent on the job.

The injunction doesn’t spell the end of the new overtime rules altogether. In the next 60 days, the preliminary injunction will lead to additional court hearings. During that time, President Obama can appeal the judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit Court. While the appeals court tends to oppose Obama’s administration, there is no telling how it will all shake out.

In the meantime, workers and employers are left in the lurch. These new overtime rules were set to go into effect December 1st of this month. Many employers had already alerted their employees to a change in their status as salaried employees. Some employees saw this change as a demotion.

We’ll be curious to see how all of this works out. The current rule – if an employee makes less than $23,600 annually, employers must pay them for the hours they work beyond 40 each week – was put in place in 2004. Since that time, our economy has obviously grown and changed. The sheer cost of living difference between 2004 and today means the $23,600 rate is extremely low.

No matter what the courts decide, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the changing – or in this case, not changing – overtime rules.

Wage & Overtime Lawyers

If you are independent contractor, but your hours, work attire, pay, etc., are controlled by a client, you may be misclassified. The nature of your relationship with a client could deem you an employee, and as an employee you are eligible for benefits such as overtime pay. You could be owed unpaid wages. Contact our Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers to discuss your situation 877-544-5323.

Contact Us Today 877-544-5323.

*Prior results to do not guarantee a similar outcome.