Employment Lawyers serving Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Central & Southside Virginia
Chris Collins, head of the Labor & Employment division at Yugo Collins, discusses Title VII discrimination, FMLA, ERISA, COBRA, FLSA, ADA, and Covid-19 claims
Mia Yugo, managing partner at Yugo Collins, provides examples of gender-based discrimination that can occur in the workplace and what your options are if you've experienced it first-hand.
Whether you've been working for 2 weeks or 30 years, no one wants to get fired. Many people choose to quit first, but that is often the worst move they can make. The best move is to call a skilled employment attorney with experience litigating cases involving facts similar to those you are experiencing. We've summarized below some of the laws and regulations passed to protect workers from discrimination and their benefits from being wasted or stolen.
Title VII protects workers from being discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, and other protected categories. Sexual harassment is a common form of sex discrimination. Many people are shocked to learn that Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. A common area of Title VII litigation is determining who should be counted as an employee. Recently, the Virginia General Assembly passed laws covering employers with as few as 5 employees. Employees can recover significant damages under Title VII. Employers can even be forced to pay our clients' attorney fees! Whether you live in Roanoke, VA or anywhere in Central or Southside Virginia, call us to learn what our employment lawyers can do for you!
The Family Medical Leave Act allows certain workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to receive treatment for a serious health condition or care for a household family member who has a serious health condition. To be eligible, the employee must have worked at least 12 months for the same employer and at least 1,250 hours for that employer during the past 12 months. They must also work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of that location. Some of these rules have been temporarily affected by Covid-19 laws and regulations, as outlined below. Employees who prevail under FMLA can recover damages for lost wages, front pay, reinstatement, and liquidated (double) damages, as well as attorney fees.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA") protects employees' benefits and retirement pension funds. It sets minimum standards that fiduciaries must observe when handling and managing plan funds. ERISA applies to all plan fiduciaries, no matter the size of the company. ERISA cases can be extremely complex and take years to litigate, but often result in huge judgments. Examples of ERISA violations include failing to pay employee benefit premiums or carelessly investing pension funds. Our attorneys have obtained significant judgments in ERISA cases and actively seek out ERISA victims. Victims can recover the value of the plan funds or benefits lost, plus liquidated (double) damages and attorney fees.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA") provides employees an opportunity to continue their health insurance for up to 18 months after being terminated, having their hours cut, getting divorced, or certain other life events. Employers having 20 or more employees must provide a COBRA notice within 30 of such an event occurring in order to allow the employee time to pay the premium so her insurance does not lapse. Employers are subject to a daily fine as well as damages for medical bills that would otherwise have been covered if the employee's health insurance had remained in effect, and attorney fees.
The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") enforces minimum wage and overtime rules, as well as establishing standards for which types of employees can be salaried (no overtime) and which must be paid 1.5x their normal pay for hours worked in excess of 40 each week. Some of the categories are somewhat nebulous, meaning it is not always obvious whether an employee must be paid extra for working overtime. Employees who were not paid overtime but who should have been are entitled to the amount of the underpayment in lost wages plus liquidated (double) damages and attorney fees.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") was passed to protect employees and job-seekers suffering from a disability from discrimination. It requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide a reasonable accommodation to such employees so long as doing so would not impose an undue burden on the employer. Pregnancy discrimination claims can be pursued under the ADA or Title VII, depending on the nature of the discrimination. Victims of discrimination under the ADA can recover compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government passed the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLA”), which amended the FMLA to provide emergency Covid-related leave for employees who had worked at least 30 days for an employer with fewer than 500 employees. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act ("EPLSA") provided paid sick leave for employees exposed to or infected with Covid-19. The EFMLA and EPLSA initially expired on December 31, 2020, but two more rounds of legislation allowed employers to be bound through September 30, 2021. Many claims in 2020 and 2021 involved these laws. In addition, the Commonwealth of Virginia promulgated the first Emergency Temporary Standard ("ETS") in the county to address Covid-19 concerns. It provided minimum worker safety protocols and protected workers from retaliation for complaining about employers who failed or refused to abide by these protocols. Because of the speed with which it was enacted and the lack of familiarity with its requirements, many businesses were successfully sued under the ETS.