Reclaiming Unpaid Wages In Virginia

Though we elaborate on what it means in a moment, employees in Virginia have a private right of action when their employers don’t pay them. Before July 1, 2020, Virginians had few options when their employers put them in this position. If their employer unjustly withheld wages, failed to pay them overtime (when appropriate), or neglected to pay them entirely, all they could do was file a complaint. This went to the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry. The employee needed the Commissioner to get their unpaid wages. 

However, that only applied to violations of state law. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938 and was signed by President Roosevelt, is the federal law that led to minimum wages, forty-hour work weeks, and time-and-a-half. If the employer violated it, employees could take their employer to court. Although that seems fair, there is an extensive list of employees not covered by the FLSA. This includes everyone from airline employees to salaried executives. 

What is a Private Right of Action?

In July 2020, Virginia enacted a law granting employees the private right of action. Employees who have not been paid can bypass the commissioner, contact an employment law attorney, and take their issue to a judge. If you are someone who has been shorted wages, you may take comfort in knowing that you can reclaim more than what is owed to you. For example, if you are owed a marginal sum, you may be hesitant to hire an attorney. You are concerned that the cost of going to court outweighs the amount owed to you. 

If your employer unknowingly underpaid you, you can get back twice the amount you lost with 8% interest. Because this was not your fault, your employer will also be responsible for paying your attorney’s fees as long as they are reasonable. Employers who deliberately and knowingly fail to pay an employee will pay three times the amount the employee is owed in addition to an attorney’s fees. 

Your Employer Cannot Retaliate 

Retaliation in the workplace can present itself in a variety of ways. When you file a claim against your employer, they cannot retaliate against you. For instance, they cannot fire you because of the lawsuit, nor can they change your hours, demote you, give you a bad review, or even speak poorly of you if you need them as a reference. Granted, an employer can still do any of these things if it is unrelated to your lawsuit. Your employer may even claim the events are unrelated. When this happens, you should speak to an employment law attorney immediately. 

Contact an Employment Law Attorney 

Don’t be afraid of filing a lawsuit against your employer if they owe you wages. At the Law Offices of Robert Dawson, we stand up to large corporations because it is just, and it is what you deserve. We have helped clients who have been unpaid, wrongfully terminated, or have experienced sexual harassment and discrimination. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Law Office of Robert Dawson

You have more power than you realize. If you need a professional attorney who has built a reputation within employment and business law, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dawson. We are passionate about protecting our clients and pursuing their interests. Contact us for tailored legal solutions.

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