Employment Law Attorneys in Charleston, West Virginia
Employment law covers a wide range of issues that affect the employer-employee relationship. Employers are expected to follow and keep up with a broad scope of regulations and laws to stay compliant and avoid violating the rights of their employees. As an employee, you should be aware of your rights to ensure that you are treated fairly and are provided a safe and healthy work environment.
Our employment law attorneys at Atkinson & Frampton, PLLC represent both employees and employers in Charleston, West Virginia, and other parts of the state, including Huntington, Morgantown, Martinsburg, Beckley, and Parkesburg. If you are an employee and believe your rights have been violated by your employer, we can help. We also provide counseling and guidance to employers throughout the state of West Virginia to help them avoid disputes and litigation and ensure compliance with the relevant federal and state laws.
Wage and Hour & Safety-Related Laws
Wage and hour laws are regulated at the federal level by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and also at the state level in West Virginia:
Minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009, while the minimum wage in West Virginia is currently $8.75. However, from January 1, 2024, every employer in the state will be required to pay employees at a rate of not less than $10.00. After December 31, 2024, the minimum wage in the state is set to increase to $11.00.
Overtime pay. West Virginia’s laws regarding overtime pay are consistent with the federal law. Employers with six or more employees are legally required to provide overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The only exception to the overtime pay requirement is if the employee is classified as exempt.
Meal break. Employees who work six or more consecutive hours are entitled to a minimum of a 20-minute meal/break period. The only exception is if the employee is allowed to eat while working or to take breaks as needed. The 20-minute rest breaks must be counted as paid work time.
Child labor. West Virginia follows the FLSA-imposed restrictions on child labor. According to the website of the U.S. Department of Labor, the minimum age for employment is 14 years old. Minors aged 14 to 15 can work in non-hazardous occupations outside of school hours as long as specific hour restrictions are followed. Minors aged 16 to 17 have fewer restrictions but are not allowed to work in hazardous occupations.
Safety. In West Virginia, occupational safety is governed by the West Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Act (WVOSHA), which requires employers to provide a hazard-free workplace for all employees by providing training and education, implementing safety programs, and following applicable safety regulations. Employees have the right to report their concerns or file complaints to the Division of Labor established by the WVOSHA. The regulatory body is responsible for conducting inspections and enforcing workplace safety standards in the state.
It is essential for both employers and employees to stay up to date with federal and state wage and hour and safety-related laws in West Virginia to ensure compliance, protect their rights, and avoid potential legal issues. Working with skilled employment law attorneys can greatly help in this regard.
Anti-Discrimination, Retaliation, and Wrongful Termination
This category of employment laws often differs from one state to another. While the laws related to workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination are governed by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), West Virginia also addresses these issues at the state level:
Discrimination. The Human Rights Act of West Virginia protects employees from workplace discrimination based on characteristics such as religion, national origin, disability, ancestry, race, sex, age, color, and disability. The Act prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination actions such as terminating employment, refusing to hire or promote, or others based on the above-mentioned protected characteristics of the employee or job applicant.
Harassment. Workplace harassment in any form is prohibited by West Virginia law. Common examples of harassment at work include sexual harassment, verbal bullying, hate speech, physical threats, and cyberbullying, among others.
Retaliation. Under West Virginia law, employers are prohibited from taking adverse employment actions against employees in response to exercising their rights. Retaliation can take the form of firing, demoting, refusing to promote, reducing salary, and other negative actions against an employee for engaging in protected activities such as reporting or participating in an investigation of wage and hour violations, filing a claim for workers’ compensation, filing a complaint, or others.
Wrongful termination. Since West Virginia is an at-will employment state, an employer can fire any employee at any time and for any reason. However, employers must still abide by federal and state laws when terminating employment. A fired employee could pursue a wrongful termination case against the employer if the firing was in violation of an established public policy or as the result of retaliation, discrimination, or breach of contract.
At Atkinson & Frampton, PLLC, we help both employers and employees navigate the ever-changing landscape of employment and labor laws in West Virginia to ensure the protection of their rights and compliance with the applicable laws.
Employment Law Attorneys in Charleston, West Virginia
Our team of employment law attorneys at Atkinson & Frampton, PLLC, can provide you with the counsel you need to understand your rights and obligations as an employer or employee in Charleston and other parts of West Virginia. We stand up for the rights of workers and guide employers to maintain compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Reach out to our office to receive your free case evaluation.