Employment News & Info

If you’re an employee working in any field or profession, it’s incredibly important to know the rights to which you are entitled under employment law, and what constitutes unfair or illegal discrimination or exploitation.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) list numerous types of exploitative and discriminatory measures in which employers can engage. Employers can undertake “Discrimination by Type” by discriminating against people based on age, race/color, national origin and other factors, all prohibited by the EEOC. Employers may not publish job advertisements discouraging people from applying based upon these characteristic. Nor may they pay people different wages due to such factors; employers must practice “Equal Pay for Equal Work.”

There are also many protections for employees at the state level, as well. Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry protects employees from many harmful actions on the part of employers. For instance, employers are required to establish and abide by regular pay schedules and rates of pay for all of their employees; as well, employees must be paid in legal United States tender (or a check which can be cashed for legal tender).  Employers are also required to provide at least a thirty-minute break when employees are scheduled to work five or more consecutive hours. These and other regulations are meant to ensure that employees receive fair wages and are not overburdened by unscrupulous employers.

If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly or illegally in the workplace, you may have a case to bring against an employer engaging in unlawful employment practices. My Virginia-based law firm specializes in employment law; my lawyers and I know the rules by which employers are to abide, and we know how to fight for you if you’ve been cheated out of a fair wage or discriminated against. You deserve to be able to make a good living—don’t let bad employers get away with discriminating or taking advantage of you.

You can click here to read about a recent lawsuit filed in Norfolk, Virginia regarding a police officer’s unpaid overtime.

A Culpeper, Virginia deputy is suing the county sheriff’s office along with a number of county officials due to what he claims was wrongful termination. The plaintiff deputy claims that his termination was the result of his reporting on the abusive treatment of inmates by another deputy.

The deputy’s dismissal came after he reported the assault of a female inmate by another deputy. The fired deputy reported the incident to the jailer, who did not take action; the deputy proceeded to report the incident to the jailer’s direct supervisor. Four other deputies were dismissed following the revelation of the assault.

The Culpeper Sheriff’s Office has asked the county’s circuit court to dismiss the suit due to its being a direct agency, instead of a separate legal entity, of Virginia.

“Whisteblowing,” wherein an employee reports illegal or unseemly behavior he or she witnesses in his or her organization, is a protected act under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employers cannot fire their employees because the latter reported unlawful conduct. In addition to this, employers cannot take “adverse action” against their whistleblowing employees, such as refusing to promote an employee, threatening them or treating them cruelly or unfairly in the workplace. These prohibitions apply to both government and private-sector employers. Unfortunately, many countries do not offer the level of protection for whistleblowers as does the United States, however; recently a Chinese journalist was arrested for whistleblowing against his own government.

Nobody should have to endure unfair employment practices. If you’ve been discriminated against or wrongly terminated, you may have an EEOC or employment case to bring against the employer. A Virginia employment law attorney can help you with your case.

The Norfolk Police Department is being sued by more than 300 police officers who are declaring that they were forced to work overtime without being compensated. Duties such as the cleaning of weapons, arriving to court early, and working through breaks were forced to be done without pay. According to the complaint as many as 700 officers, past and present, may have been affected by these policies.

The lawsuit also states that it is a violation of state law that the Norfolk police department doesn’t pay overtime until an officer has surpassed 43 hours within a seven day period.

PilotOnline.com quotes James Shoemaker, one of the attorneys representing the officers, “This is simply a case where… officers have not been getting paid in accordance with state and federal law.”

Within the past 20 years, similar lawsuits were filed in Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. In July of 2012, Richmond police officers and the City of Richmond settled a similar lawsuit which involved over 600 officers.

In a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of over 600 current and retired Richmond, Virginia police officers, the city of Richmond is facing a $7 million payout for lost overtime pay. The deal is facing approval by City Council later in the month.

If the deal is approved, the funds will be taken from a $97.7 million non-departmental “rainy day” unassigned general fund balance from this year’s budget. In Rogers v. city of Richmond, the suit is asking for retired and current officers to be paid overtime funds. The suit claims that officers should have been paid time-and-a-half if they worked more than 80 hours in a 14-day pay period.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) requires that employers pay time-and-a-half starting at 86 hours. The officers are claiming they should have been paid overtime for the gap time between 80-86 hours worked in the 14-day pay period.

A Virginia law passed in 2005 stated that workers should be paid overtime when they work more than 80 hours in a 14-day pay period. Richmond has argued that the federal law preempted the state law.

Richmond’s liability in the case could become as high as $38 million. Tammy D. Hawley, press secretary for Mayor Dwight C. Jones, stated “the city administration had resources in a contingency fund to cover such potential exposure.”

Virginia Labor & Employment Facts

  • Overtime- Most hourly employees are entitled to overtime pay when hours worked surpasses 40 hours within a 7 consecutive works days according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Minimum Wage- In Virginia, the minimum hourly rate is identical to the federal rate. Currently the hourly minimum rate is $7.25 per hour.
  • Tips – The FLSA states that an employer can pay an employee under the minimum wage only when that wage plus tips earned is, at the least, equal to the minimum wage for each hour worked. If it is not, the employer must make up the difference.
  • Breaks- In Virginia, if you are given a break and do any work during this break, you are entitled to be paid for that work. However, Virginia does not require employers to give employees breaks unless the employee is under the age of 16.

 

Not Being Fairly Compensated?

If you find yourself in one of these positions or 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 our Virginia Employment Law Lawyers
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