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West Virginia Consumer Protection and Employment Law Blog

Spotting car sales fraud

For a large majority of West Virginians, vehicles are an essential part of everyday life. A reliable, efficient ride is part of that equation. Discovering that fraud has occurred during a purchase can certainly make for a frustrating experience, but when it comes to such dishonest transactions, the law protects consumers. Below are some automobile buying smarts that can help buyers avoid those difficult situations.

As for the car hunt itself, Business Insider provides a few tips on how to discern the good from the bad. Surprisingly, their list begins with an auto sales scam that involves a dealer's omission of not the major parts, but the small details. By giving a critical ear to every word a dealer shares about the vehicle, customers can be wary of any tricks. Business Insider also warns of "bait and switch" offers: a scam in which the dealer first offers a customer a car at a low price, only to tell the customer the car has been sold once they arrive to the dealership. From there, dealers may distract customers by drawing their attention to a vehicle of a higher price. One way to avoid such dishonest practices is to call the dealer ahead of time and request a signed statement that mentions the sale. 

What are common FMLA violations?

Companies in West Virginia that fit criteria for complying with the Federal Medical Leave Act must offer the benefits to any eligible employee. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, if you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and have put in a minimum of 1,250 hours over the last year, you are likely eligible. Unfortunately, FMLA violations are not uncommon in the workplace. Here are a few common violations that you should have on your radar when you apply for leave.

Perhaps most importantly, your employer cannot deny you the right to use FMLA or discourage you from using it. They cannot refuse to authorize your leave as long as you have met the eligibility requirements. If your company has a "no-fault" attendance policy, the time you take off during FMLA leave cannot be counted towards that total. In addition, your employer cannot pressure you to return from leave early or constantly interfere with your time off. Checking in from time to time is acceptable but it should be kept to a minimum.

Female employees continue to fight against sex discrimination

The premiere of the ABC drama “Station 19” is another example of art imitation life in America. Indeed, a growing number of firefighting units are being headed by women. But while women are making advances in a male-dominated industry, discrimination still exists.

A recent lawsuit involving female firefighters in Houston, Texas exemplifies the plight of their counterparts in West Virginia as well as women who work in other industries throughout the state. Here is a look at the firefighters’ claims and an employee’s rights if they experience workplace harassment.

Identifying violations of the Equal Pay Act

All of the hard work that you put into your education and/or vocational training will hopefully pay off by you securing a job with a reputable company in Charleston. Yet as many of the clients that we here at The Grubb Law Group have worked with in the past can attest to, simply getting your foot in the door of a company does not necessarily mean that the opportunities for an employer to discriminate against you have ended. It is often expected that you will encounter a workplace hierarchy (especially in terms of compensation) when you become part of a company. However, the basis of that hierarchy should not be discriminatory. 

Despite increased employment opportunities being given to certain demographic groups that have historically experienced discrimination, many members of those groups still find unfair practices being employed in the way that they are compensated for their work. For example, imagine you discover that a colleague of a different gender who fills a role similar to yours is being paid much more than you. Legislation does indeed exist to prevent such a practice. 

What can you recover under the state's lemon law?

Few things may be more exciting than purchasing a new car from any one of Charleston's many dealerships. That new car smell you enjoy as you drive your vehicle home serves as a confirmation that your days of worrying about car troubles are over. Perhaps that is why it is so disheartening when issues do immediately begin to arise with a new vehicle. Your warranty protection ensures that such issues should be addressed by the dealership (or its agents) at no unreasonable additional cost to you. Yet you may find that service technicians are not miracle workers. 

If repeated attempts to fix your car by a service professional are unsuccessful, that may speak to a manufacturing defect. That is where the protection afforded to you by the state's "lemon law" kicks in. If a vehicle manufacturer (or the technicians employed through its local retailers) are unable to fix the problems you are experiencing with your car (either in the time it is covered under the manufacturer's warranty or up to one year afterwards) within three attempts, it is required to provide you with a new, fully functioning vehicle. 

Storage tank malfunction in fertility clinic prompts lawsuit

When asked what constitutes a class action lawsuit, most in Charleston would correctly cite the fact that such action involves multiple plaintiffs pursuing a similar claim against a single defendant. That may be the reason why many are confused when such actions are initiated by a single person. In the case of a class action, every plaintiff need not be present during court proceedings. The purpose of this type of action, in fact, is to save them from having to go through all the rigors required with a traditional lawsuit. A single representative is chosen to represent the class, and it is that person that becomes the face and voice of that group during proceedings. 

A woman has stepped forward to be such a representative in action recently filed against a California-based fertility clinic. The lawsuit was prompted by a storage tank malfunction, which exposed several thousand eggs and embryos to high temperatures that could compromise their viability. According to the woman's representatives, this failure is an example of how the clinic was grossly negligent in maintaining their equipment. In all, nearly 15 percent of the reproductive elements stored at the facility were affected by the problem, which represented the fertility hopes of nearly 500 people. 

Taking a closer look at date labels on food products

If there is one product that everyone in Charleston needs, it is food. As such, you would think that legislators would do all that they can to ensure the products you buy at the grocery store are safe for consumption. If asked to identify the most apparent food quality safeguards mandated by law, you (like many others) might first guess expiration dates. Yet we at The Grubb Law Group are here to tell you that not everything you associate with quality is required by law. 

The so-called "expiration dates" you see on food products are in fact not indicators of when a food expires. Rather, they list the date at which it will be its best quality (or to what date retailers should leave it on their shelves). In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, except in the case of infant formula, they are not required by law at all. 

The growing concern of sexual misconduct in the workplace

With the Hollywood sexual misconduct scandals, the "Me Too" movement and other politically charged topics landing under the recent spotlight, employees across the country are wondering if they may be experiencing some level of abuse within the workplace. Although the country has seen significant progress in directing accountability and spreading awareness about the issue, many West Virginian workers nevertheless feel unsafe while on the job.

In January, CNBC reported on the growing concern toward sexual misconduct in the workplace, stating that unreported incidents continue to circulate within various industries. The "Me Too" movement that has dominated the media for months has certainly shed light on countless unethical cases, but there are still a considerable number of employees who have remained silent -- whether it be for reasons of fearing retaliation, stigma or other repercussions. As CNBC shared using a recent survey, almost three quarters of the 12 percent of employees who admitted to having experienced sexual harassment did not report the incident. Over half of those surveyed did not confront their harasser. Employees also expressed fears of becoming a troublemaker, having one person's word against another's or losing the job altogether.

Employees misclassified as contractors are at a disadvantage

The recent news stories about Uber and Grubhub employee classification has once again illustrated the importance of correct worker classification. A Harvard Business Review article describes the phenomenon of contracted employment as a “fissured workforce”.

A changing workforce

Benefits of a class action lawsuit

If you have suffered an injury because of a design flaw in a product, you are probably not the only one who had that experience. In fact, faulty products often harm many people before the manufacturer is willing to issue a recall. At The Grubb Law Group, we often provide legal services to groups of people who have sustained similar damages because of a single company's negligence.

FindLaw explains that although you may worry that filing a lawsuit along with a number of other people may lower the settlement you receive, the opposite may be true. Rather than shouldering the cost of attorney fees, court costs and other expenses related to litigation, you share these with others. If the potential settlement is not much more than the cost of the lawsuit, you may not have had reason to hold the company accountable for the damages it caused. However, by combining your case with others, the expenses of the process become much lower.

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The Grubb Law Group

The Grubb Law Group
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Charleston, WV 25301

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