There are several state and federal laws available to protect the rights of people who work in Virginia. Not only do these laws clarify what employment rights are available in Virginia, but they also provide guidelines on how employees can enforce these rights. Thus, it is important for every employee in Virginia to familiarize themselves with these laws.

What Is Part-Time vs. Full-Time in Virginia?

According to Virginia state law, you are a full-time employee if you work 35 hours per week or 1,680 hours per year. This does not apply to seasonal, temporary, or contract workers.

What Is the Minimum Wage in Virginia?

Virginia's minimum wage law follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is $2.13 per hour, with the notion that tips will make up the difference.

Overtime

Even though Virginia does not have any state laws about overtime, it follows the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Thus, any employee who works over 40 hours in one week has to be paid 1 and ½ times the normal pay rate. Virginia also does not have laws stopping mandatory overtime. This means that your employer can ask you to work however much overtime they want, and then fire you if you refuse to do so.

Health Benefits

Virginia does not have state laws that require employer to provide health insurance to their employees. However, employers in the state do have to follow the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA only applies to companies have at least 50 full-time employees. If the company you work for is that large, then it must offer health insurance to most of the full-time employees. If, on the other hand, you work for a smaller company, then it is not required to offer health insurance, but some smaller companies may still decide to offer it. You should speak to your HR department to find out what health insurance options you have at work.

However, it is important to know that the ACA is under threat of being repealed, and it is unclear if there will be a similar law to replace the ACA if it is repealed. You should check with a local lawyer to find out what rights you have to health benefits at work in the event that the ACA is repealed or replaced with a new healthcare law.

Discrimination

In all 50 states, it is against the law to discriminate against an employee because of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, genetic information, citizenship status, disability, and age. The Virginia Human Rights Act adds to this list of protected classes by making it illegal to discriminate against employees based on marital status, pregnancy, or childbirth. It is also illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for complaining about discriminatory behavior towards you.

If you think your employer has illegally discriminated against you, then you should file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Alternatively, you can file a claim with the state through the Virginia Council on Human Rights (VCHR). You should understand that each agency has its own deadlines, and you need to work with a lawyer to ensure that you do not file too late.

In Virginia, any award that you may receive will be limited to back pay and attorney’s fees. Thus, you may want to sue in federal court instead. If you sue in federal court, there is also a damages limit, but the amount may be larger than what you would get in state court. The limits are determined by the size of the company:

  • Max of $50,000 for companies with 15-100 employees
  • Max of $100,000 for companies with 101-200 employees
  • Max of $200,000 for companies with 201-500 employees
  • Max of $300,000 for companies with more than 500 employees

Time Off

Companies are not required by Virginia law to provide sick leave and vacation time. Also, if you work for a private company, you do not have the right to be paid for taking off time for holidays. Virginia also does not have its own laws about taking time off for pregnancy or disability. 

Virginia like all other states does have to follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, that law only applies to larger companies that operate in more than one state and have at least 50 or more employees. Under the FMLA, an employee has the right to take off a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave. That leave is for pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, or illness. While you are on leave, you cannot lose your health benefits, and your employer has to make sure your job is still available when you return.

Where Can I Find a Local Employment Lawyer to Help Me?

Being able to enjoy and exercise your rights are an important part of working in Virginia. If you think you are not being allowed to enjoy the basic rights and protections offered by your state's labor laws, then contact a Virginia employment lawyer today.