Employment News & Info

Virginia Unpaid Overtime Lawyer | Employment Law AttorneyNew rules from the Department of Labor go into effect on January 1st – but what does that mean for you?

If you make less than $47,476 annually, your employer will have to start paying you for time you spend at work beyond 40 hours a week. You’ll be considered an hourly employee, now, too. Employers looking to exploit loopholes in the system might promote you to $48k just before the rule goes into effect. But that threshold won’t stay at $47k for long. It will continue to rise every three years to keep up with rising costs of living.

This new rule comes as a win for anyone who has ever been required to stay late at work without receiving additional payment. If you make more than $47k, you’ll be paid time-and-a-half for any hours you put in beyond the required 40. This new rule will impact more than 4 million Americans.

Before you sign any new contracts re-negotiating your salary or hours, keep this new rule in mind. And if you haven’t heard about it from your boss, bring it up to make sure you’re being fairly compensated in the new year. Being your own self-advocate is the best way to be proactive.

Nearly half of all small business owners are unaware of the new rules. That could leave them scrambling in 2017. Employers are held liable for back payments of overtime, for up to six years. If you’re an entrepreneur yourself, read up on the new rules and make sure you’ve got a handle on them.

Not Being Fairly Compensated? Contact Us.

If you believe that your employer has violated the law or failed to properly pay you your wages, our Virginia Employment Attorneys are here to help. Contact us to setup a consultation to discuss your situation. Call toll free 877-544-5323.

If you’ve been curious to learn more about whistleblowers but have been too afraid to reach out for guidance, this is your guide.

 1.       Whistleblowing isn’t limited to one particular industry. Any time illegal activity takes place, workers can blow the whistle. That means healthcare fraud – like overbilling or improper coding – can be exposed. Government contractors, too, can sound the alarm. Whether you work in the private or the public sector, unethical behavior can be reported.
2.       The risks might seem to outweigh the benefits… Whistleblowers may face unfair, illegal retaliation for their actions. Even before an employee blows the whistle, managers may make threats to people thinking of sounding the alarm. Supervisors mistakenly believe they can scare their employees into silence. But termination, suspension and other common whistleblower consequences are all illegal.
3.       But the rewards will be worth while. The Whistleblower Reward Program, started by the SEC, offers a prize for those who sound the alarm. In 2016, an industry expert – someone outside of the company or government agency they reported – was awarded $700,000 in prize money for his actions. The U.S. government’s whistleblower programs make hundreds of rewards every year as an incentive to report illegal activity.
4.       Whistleblowers are protected by law. Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act in 1989, ensuring responsible, ethical employees are safe from retaliation from their superiors or colleagues. Unfortunately, illegal forms of retaliation like termination and hush money still occur all the time. This is when whistleblowers need help.
5.       Attorneys that specialize in whistleblower lawsuits can give you guidance and make sure you’re treated fairly. Those who are brave enough to reveal fraudulent or deceitful practices within their company should not be punished.  If you are aware of such 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.

Whistleblower Protection Attorneys

Are you aware of illegal practices going on at your workplace, but are afraid of being retaliated against if you report them? Or maybe you have already reported illegal practices, and have been fired or demoted? If so, you may want to speak to an experienced whistleblower attorney.

There are federal laws in place that protect and reward whistleblowers that shed light on individuals or companies that are engaged in fraudulent activities. For more information visit our Whistleblower Protection page, or contact us to discuss your situation.

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has resigned following allegations of sexual harassment from female employees. The executive made headlines this month as former network host Gretchen Carlson accused him of canceling her TV show when she refused to sleep with him. Since Carlson spoke up, other women have come forward with similar accounts of sexual harassment from Ailes. The allegations stretch back into the 1960s. Ailes has denied all of them.

21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch will take over for Ailes in the interim. Murdoch made a statement about Ailes’ contributions to the company, but made no mention of the allegations against him.

Nondisclosure Agreements Prevented Victims From Coming Forward

Some say the network was designed to keep sexual harassment accusations in the dark. Nondisclosure agreements often prevent victims from coming forward with their stories. It took Carlson’s bravery for these allegations to come to light so publicly. One voice can lead the way for many others who were similarly affected. After Carlson’s story broke, several others at Fox News – including popular anchor Megyn Kelly – said they, too had experienced harassment from Ailes.

Businesses Should Be Proactive

The resignation is a win for victims of workplace sexual harassment everywhere. After decades of alleged sexism, Ailes is finally resigning. As scandals like this one rock the media industry, more and more businesses will become proactive in ousting and disciplining employees who sexually harass colleagues. For many decades, sexual harassment was a part of the job many women faced routinely, never expecting a company to take their side or even be willing to hear their accusations. Men and women alike now see sexual harassment as the serious issue it is.

Virginia Sexual Harassment Lawyer

If you are the victim of sexual harassment, contact our employment lawyers to set up a free consultation 877-544-5323.

Sex for Career Boost; TV Host Files Lawsuit Against Fox CEO

Fox News anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson has a sexual harassment suit against 21st Century Fox’s chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes. The former Fox News Channel host says that throughout her time at the network, Ailes propositioned her. When she refused, Ailes allegedly retaliated by sabotaging Carlson’s career. Her popular show, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, was canceled in June. Carlson says there is a direct connection between her refusal to sleep with Ailes and the cancellation of her show.

Beyond the propositioning, Carlson says she also faced problematic comments about her body from Ailes. He routinely complimented her outfits and the way they complemented her figure. He requested she turn around so he could view her from the back, the suit alleges.

It’s not just Ailes who targeted Carlson. Her co-host on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy, also allegedly treated her in a sexist, condescending manner on a regular basis. Carlson’s lawsuit points out moments on live television when Doocy would put hands on her to get her to stop talking.

Ailes has called the lawsuit defamatory and denies any wrongdoing. 21st Century Fox has defended their CEO and announced an internal review of the claims against both Ailes and Doocy.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

This high profile case highlights a common issue rarely voiced in the workplace: sexual harassment. Statistics show that one in four women will be harassed at work in some way. Whether it is outright harassment like inappropriate touching or more subversive, like a coworker creating a hostile work environment, sexual harassment occurs more frequently than most people realize. Even women in high-ranking, highly visible positions – like Carlson – are often put into uncomfortable, unethical scenarios by their colleagues and managers.

If you are the victim of sexual harassment, contact our lawyers to set up a free consultation 877-544-5323.

1. AGAINST THE LAW

It is ILLEGAL to harass or discriminate against a person because of the person’s sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual discrimination.

2. QUID PRO QUO

There are generally two types of sexual harassment in the workplace. In a quid pro quo sexual harassment situation, an employee is subjected to demands for sexual favors in exchange for some job benefit such as promises of promotion or the ability to keep their job. The employee will be in an inferior power position to the perpetrator.

3. HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT

The more common type of sexual harassment is a hostile work environment where the employee is subjected to various forms of unwanted or unwelcome sexual conduct which can include sexual advances, pornographic materials, sexually suggestive texts or e-mails, sexually graphic language, etc. The harasser can be the victim’s immediate supervisor, a supervisor in a different work location, a co-worker, and even a client or customer of the company.

4. DOES ALL OFFENSIVE CONDUCT CREATE A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT?

No, conduct that is not severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or abusive work environment will not be a violation of the law. Whether the work environment is a hostile place will be determined by looking at all of the circumstances including the severity and pervasiveness of the conduct.

5. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE

If you feel uncomfortable around someone, speaking to them about the situation may help to remedy the situation. They may not have realized that their actions or words were improper. If the person continues the improper conduct, you should begin to keep a log of the conduct and when it occurred. You may need this information later should it become necessary for you to file a complaint, charge of discrimination or lawsuit.

6. FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY’S COMPLAINT PROCESS

You don’t always have to report the sexual harassment to your boss. He or she may be the one who is sexually harassing you. Good employers will have established procedures for making a complaint. If your company has a complaint process, you should consider following it and keeping a record of your actions.

7. CONSULT AN EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY

IF YOU ARE NOT SATISFIED WITH THE RESOLUTION OF YOUR COMPLAINT OR WANT ADVICE BEFORE YOU REGISTER A COMPLAINT, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER CONSULTING AN EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY. An experienced employment attorney will review your matter with you and if the attorney feels that you have a valid claim, they can help you file a grievance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or with your company. Being a victim of sexual harassment can be very stressful. Having an experienced attorney help you through this process can help reduce the stress and provide you good guidance on how best to proceed.

We at the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe are experienced employment attorneys. If you feel that you have been sexually harassed at your workplace, call us for a free consultation. We are here to help you

An industry expert is now $700,000 richer after receiving the first ever whistleblower award given to a company outsider. An anonymous person known only as an industry expert received $700,000 for coming forward with information. The company in question was not identified. The help given to the Securities and Exchange Commission by this expert is making headlines. The groundbreaking award marks the first time a company outsider has been remunerated for information, as all previously rewarded whistleblowers went to those working at companies being investigated.

Whistleblower Reward Program

The expansion of this whistleblower reward program is a “game changer.” In the past, industry experts sometimes claimed to know about suspicious activity – like that of the Bernie Madoff case – but did not come forward because no such reward was offered to outsiders. The news of this reward program expansion highlights the possibility for anyone with information about unethical behavior to come forward and be rewarded. Industry experts can offer a unique perspective into complex and often confusing fields. Their knowledge is priceless when it comes to understanding potential abuse.

Speaking Up Against Unethical and Illegal Practices

Speaking up about unethical behavior is difficult no matter the context, but it’s especially hard when you’re employed at the company in question. Those who work outside the company face backlash as well, which is why the whistleblower in this case has been kept anonymous. The award money serves as as incentive for people to come forward with their insider knowledge, but also as a kind of insurance policy for the whistleblower. Whistleblower retaliation is illegal, and consequences can be enforced for anyone demoted, terminated, or treated unfairly for reporting illegal practices.

Since the program began in 2011, the SEC has awarded more than $55 million to nearly two dozen whistleblowers.

Whistleblower Protection Attorneys

Are you aware of illegal practices going on at your workplace, but are afraid of being retaliated against if you report them? Or maybe you have already reported illegal practices, and have been fired or demoted? If so, you may want to speak to an experienced whistleblower attorney.

There are federal laws in place that protect and reward whistleblowers that shed light on individuals or companies that are engaged in fraudulent activities. For more information visit our Whistleblower Protection page, or contact us to discuss your situation.

Papa John’s Franchisee Gets Jail Time

A wage violation is typically punished by fines and penalties, but this is not always the case. It is possible for a business owner to get jail time for not properly compensating their employees.

According to a recent news report, a New York business owner who owns nine Papa John’s franchises was sentenced to 60 days in jail, and must pay more than $500,000 in restitution for failing to pay wages under state law. This type of crime is usually a misdemeanor, however, the owner also pleaded guilty to falsifying business records which is a felony.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman added the following: “Wage theft is a crime and a Papa John’s franchisee is now going to jail for cheating his employees and trying to cover it up.”

The investigation showed that employees regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, but were not paid overtime. Instead, they were only being paid straight time.

To make matters worse, the business owner attempted a cover up by creating a fictitious employees and recording the overtime under those names.

The Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal act that regulates the wages and hours of employees.

A few reasons the FLSA is important include:

  • It establishes a minimum wage
  • Requires overtime for non-exempt employees
  • Prohibits forms of child labor
  • Prohibits unequal pay based on gender

Not Being Fairly Compensated? Contact Us.

If you believe that your employer has violated the law or failed to properly pay you your wages, our Virginia Employment Attorneys are here to help. Contact us to setup a consultation to discuss your situation. Call toll free 877-544-5323.

QSI Business Solutions, a staffing agency located in Georgia, violated federal law by refusing to hire an applicant after finding out she was pregnant.

According to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the company refused to place a woman for employment after learning she was pregnant. When the woman called for an opening, she was asked if she was currently pregnant. Upon confirming that she was, she was told she could not be placed for the job as she was a safety risk.

This type of discrimination is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC was unsuccessful in reaching a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, leading to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Rome Division.

The EEOC is seeking back pay, punitive, and compensatory damages for the victim.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Pregnancy discrimination details the wrongful treatment of a woman because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to her pregnancy.

Many women are unaware of the fact that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is in place to protect them against discrimination due to pregnancy regarding any aspect of employment, including: hiring, firing, job responsibilities, pay, layoff, promotions, benefits, and training.

In the event that a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job duties as a result of a pregnancy related medical condition, the employer is required to continue to treat her in the same manner as any other temporarily disabled worker.

Virginia Employment Lawyer – Do You Have A Case?

Have you been discriminated against at work as a result of your pregnancy? If so, you have legal rights. Contact Virginia employment attorney Cindra Dowd to discuss your legal rights 877-544-5323.

Tonya Mallory, the former CEO of Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc., is being sued by the federal government for her alleged participation in a “kickback scheme.” According to the government, the company defrauded health insurance programs.

According to sources, the woman is one of five defendants named in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

Four months ago, the federal government unsealed whistleblower complaints against Mallory, the company, and several others.

The company itself is not involved with the most recent lawsuit due to the fact that it agreed to pay the government a hefty sum to settle the allegations. In the settlement, HDL admitted to making mistakes.

A company statement noted the following:

“So, while many of our competitors remain subject to that investigation, we are pleased to have put this matter in our rear view mirror.”

Since Mallory did not settle in April, like HDL, she is now faced with a lawsuit involving the federal government.

Whistleblower Protection

Are you aware of illegal practices going on at your workplace, but are afraid of being retaliated against if you report them? Or maybe you have already reported illegal practices, and have been fired or demoted? If so, you may want to speak to an experienced whistleblower attorney.

There are federal laws in place that protect and reward whistleblowers that shed light on individuals or companies that are engaged in fraudulent activities. For more information visit our Whistleblower Protection page, or contact us to discuss your situation.

Mississippi HomeCare of Picayune, a home healthcare provider based in Mississippi, will pay $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a worker who suffered a seizure while on the job. Upon returning to work, the woman requested an accommodation to help her better perform certain computer related tasks. The lawsuit alleges that the company ignored the request and made no attempt to assist the woman. Furthermore, her employment was terminated approximately one month after the request.

The EEOC alleged that this behavior violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After an unsuccessful attempt to reach a pre-litigation settlement, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Southern Division.

To go along with $100,000 paid to the victim, the company agreed to a two-year consent decree that requires it to provide ADA training to employees.

Disability Discrimination Lawyer

According to the law, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to any employee or applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause a significant expense or difficulty for the company. If you feel you have been discriminated against due to a disability, either as an employee or job applicant, you may want to contact an employment attorney. If you’d like to speak with Employment attorney Cindra Dowd about your situation, contact us to setup a consultation 877-544-5323.