As a hardworking employee, you expect to receive your paychecks on-time and in full. While this is exactly what happens for the majority of employees, it is possible you could run into a problem with not receiving your paychecks properly. If that does happen, you’ll benefit from working with a Charleston unpaid wages lawyer.
Even though West Virginia has very specific wage statutes and regulations, many employees are not aware of their rights regarding unpaid wages. It’s possible a negligent employer could try to take advantage of this lack of knowledge. The moment you suspect your rights have been violated, you’ll want to get in touch with an attorney and learn about what you can do next.
Worker Rights in West Virginia
The majority of employees in both private and public employment in the United States are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Covered employees must be paid for all hours worked in a workweek. Compensable hours typically include all time an employee is on duty or at a prescribed place of work and any time an employee is suffered or permitted to work.
As a resident of West Virginia, there are certain rights you have as an employee when it comes to the wages you receive as payment for the work you do. Those rights include the following:
- Minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage is $7.25, the minimum wage in West Virginia is $8.75 an hour. Covered employees must be paid at least the minimum wage.
- Overtime and maximum hours. In the event an employee work more than 40 hours per week, overtime must be paid. Overtime pay is calculated at one and a half times the workers’ regular pay rate. It’s important to note, however, that not all employees are entitled to overtime. Two of the biggest exceptions are workers who are classified as independent contractors and workers who are classified as exempt employees.
- Preparation time. Preparation time includes any time you spend to get ready for work while at work. An example would be putting on special safety gear.
- Meal periods and rest breaks. While federal law does not require employers to provide any meal or rest breaks during the workday, West Virginia labor laws require any employee who works a six-hour shift or longer to have the ability to take a 20-minute meal or rest break. The 20 minutes does not have to be provided in one block of time, but any break that’s 30 minutes or less must be paid.
In the event you will not receive a paycheck on your usual payday, keep a record of the hours you worked for that pay period. Ask your employer for an explanation to determine why you did not receive your paycheck. It’s possible a clerical error could have been made or there was a processing issue with the bank.
If, however, your employer does not intend to pay you, it’s time to get in touch with an unpaid wages attorney. They can help you look into the matter and file a claim, so you receive the wages you’re owed.
Filing an Unpaid Wages Claim in Charleston
There are a number of situations that have the potential to result in an unpaid wages claim. In the event your employer does not attempt to rectify the situation when you bring the issue up, it’s time to seek legal guidance. If you’ve experienced one of the following situations at work, you may be able to take legal action against your employer:
- Your employer hasn’t given you a paycheck for the hours you worked.
- Your last paycheck was shorted by several hours.
- Your employer paid you, but the check bounced.
- Your employer is not paying you the minimum wage.
- Your employer is not paying you overtime.
- Your employer won’t pay you the bonus you were promised.
- Your employer has filed for bankruptcy and has not paid you for all the time you worked.
Violations of wage and hour laws are rarely isolated incidents. Regardless of whether the violations are committed intentionally or due to a clerical error, issues have the potential to go on for years before an employee notices they’re being shortchanged.
If you choose to file a claim, you must do so within two years. You can bring an action in court to recover unpaid wages, as well as your attorney’s fees. Liquidated damages are calculated at twice the amount of the unpaid wages that are owed.
Your lawyer will advise you on whether you will file through the state government or federal government. If you file through West Virginia, your complaint will go through the West Virginia Division of Labor. You’ll start by filling out a Request for Assistance form.
If you file through the federal government, the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor will investigate your case. An investigator will gather data on wages, hours, and other employment conditions or practices to determine if your employer has complied with the law.
Get Help From DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC
If you’ve been taken advantage of by your employer and have not been properly paid, a Charleston unpaid wages lawyer can help. While filing a complaint can seem complex, with the right lawyer by your side you’ll receive the funds you were owed and potentially more for your time and suffering. In addition to that, your employer will be held accountable for their actions.
The sooner you get in touch with an attorney once you realize you have unpaid wages, the better your chances are of claiming that money and ensuring future wages are correct. To learn more or to schedule a consultation to receive legal advice, contact us today.