Minimum wage laws are in place to prohibit employers from hiring workers for less than a set minimum wage at an hourly, daily or monthly level. As of 2017, the minimum wage in Virginia is $7.25 per hour. The federal law that regulates wages and hours is known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Virginia, the major state law that governs pay day requirements is known as the Virginia Minimum Wage Act. These laws regulate how many hours employees are required to work, how much workers must be paid, and what rules apply to underage workers. Learn more about minimum wage laws at federal and state levels and the repercussions for employers who break these laws.
Virginia Minimum Wage Laws
Set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act, Virginia has adopted the federal minimum wage. However, Virginia minimum wage laws do not apply to employers who have fewer than four employees at one time. An employer’s spouse, children, or parents cannot be counted when determining the number of employees. Minimum wage also does not apply to tipped employees and some student workers. Any employee who is exempt from the Federal minimum wage is also exempt from Virginia’s minimum wage.
Minimum wage laws in Virginia do not establish a tipped minimum wage. However, it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that tipped employees receive enough tips to meet the standard minimum wage based on the hours worked. If an employee does not receive enough tips to meet the standard minimum wage, the employer must pay the employee the deficiency. Employers must also follow other regulations pertaining to tips. Employees cannot be required to give any part of their tips to the company unless there is a tip pooling arrangement in which the tip pool is divided between employees – never the employer.
Employees with disabilities also follow separate minimum wage laws in Virginia. State laws allow employers to pay their employees with disabilities a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage. In Virginia, employees with disabilities are exempt from minimum wage requirements. Employment provided at less than the minimum wage is designed to prevent the loss of employment opportunities for individuals with mental or physical impairments. For this type of employment, a certificate issued by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division is required. Virginia minimum wage laws also permit employers to pay trainees, apprentices, learners, and some student workers a subminimum wage rate.
Virginia does not have an overtime labor law of its own, but does follow federal laws pertaining to overtime hours worked. Federal laws state that employers must pay employees’ time and a half their normal hourly pay rate when employees work more than 40 hours in a given week. However, there are some exceptions. Under the federal law, an employer does not necessarily have to pay time and a half to employees who work weekends or holidays.
Enforcing Minimum Wage Laws
Employers may face certain repercussions if they fail to follow federal and state minimum wage laws. FLSA violations may result in an employee recovering back pay for time worked as well as liquidated damages, a penalty that is equal to the amount of the back pay. Wage and hour violations are typically enforced by the Department of Labor or by an employee’s private lawsuit. There are a number of ways that the FLSA may recover unpaid minimum wage or overtime wages, including:
- The Wage and Hour Division may supervise an employer during the payment of back pay.
- The Secretary of Labor may begin legal proceedings for the payment of back wages and an equal amount of pay in liquidated damages.
- An employee may file a private lawsuit for back pay and liquidated damages, as well as any court costs and attorney fees.
- The Secretary of Labor may seek an injunction to restrain an employer from violating the FLSA.
Employers who intentionally or unintentionally commit FLSA violations may also face financial penalties. An employer who is found guilty of committing FLSA violations may be forced to pay penalties of up to $1,100 for each repeated violation of minimum wage or overtime laws. Employment laws also prohibit discriminating against or discharging workers who file complaints or participate in proceedings under the Act.
Violators of wage and hour laws could also face jail time. However, under the FLSA, imprisonment could not be levied until an employer’s second offense. A person can also only be imprisoned under the FLSA if he or she is found to have deliberately, intentionally, and voluntarily disregarded minimum wage and hour requirements under the law. However, there are stringent time limits in which wage and hour violations claims must be filed. Under Virginia law, you must file your wage claim within three years of the date in which your wages were due if you wish for the Department of Labor to represent you.
Seeking Recourse for Unpaid Wages
If you do not receive the wages you are entitled to or if you are a victim of illegally low wages, you may be able to seek recourse with the help of an employment attorney. Whether you are found to be a victim of shorted hours, unlawful deductions, or wage theft, you have rights as an employee under federal and state minimum wage laws. Start by bringing the problem to your employer’s attention. If this is a first time occurrence, it may simply be a mistake that will be quickly remedied after talking to your employer. If this is an ongoing issue, you will want an employment attorney to act on your behalf.
Wage and hour violations are all too common in Virginia. While employers are required to comply with federal and state wage and hour laws, some fail to do so resulting in FLSA violations. If you suspect that your employer is guilty of wage and hour violations, consult with an experienced Virginia employment lawyer to determine what recourse you have under the law. Our employment attorney will fight hard for your rights.