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Workers are often taken advantage of by their employers, prospective or current. It's an unfortunate reality but one that should be recognized. Take a Fairfax restaurant may ask a server to work overtime without adjusting their pay to cover busy, short-staffed hours. Sometimes it feels like you can't argue with your employer if you want to keep your job.
But workers are rarely so powerless in the face of unjust circumstances. There are a number of federal and Virginia employment laws that employers are held accountable for and which protect workers' rights. This article breaks down those laws and rights.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker's compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Virginia employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Virginia is an at-will employment state. This means that an employer, at any time, may terminate an employee for any or no reason. However, employee rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and Virginia's employment laws protect workers from wrongful termination.
If you were fired because of employer discrimination, harassment or retaliation, you may have a wrongful termination case. Here are a few examples of wrongful termination:
A successful wrongful termination case could earn you compensation for financial losses suffered as a result of the termination. The amount you may be awarded is calculated from the wages you should have earned if you weren't terminated and any overtime and unpaid wages your employer may owe you. The value of lost benefits and emotional distress may also be considered.
As of January 2017, Virginia's minimum wage is $7.25/hour—mirroring the federal minimum wage in the U.S. A bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hour by 2017 was struck down by the Virginia Senate, signaling slow progress in relieving workers' economic strain.
Virginia's laws neither prohibit nor require private employers to request employees to take drug tests as a condition of employment. This means that employers are free to establish their own drug testing policies as long as they don't violate other state or federal laws.
However, subcontractors or vendors of public companies with a federal contract of $10,000 or more must submit to a drug test under Virginia's Drug Free Workplace Act.
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Virginia employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.
Have you been discriminated against by a potential or current employer -- as a job applicant or current employee? To best protect your legal rights you should discuss your situation with an employment lawyer. Meet with a local employment attorney sooner rather than later to protect your rights.