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West Virginia Consumer Protection and Employment Law Blog

National origin discrimination in the workplace is illegal

National origin discrimination is a problem in some work environments. Some individuals may be singled out and treated less favorably than others based on their presumed national origin, accent or apparent ethnicity.

Sometimes people who aren't of a specific nationality may find themselves treated less desirably because they have married or become involved with someone from a particular national origin.

What you should know before joining a class action lawsuit

Class action lawsuits operate a bit differently from individual litigation. The former generally involve fraud or product defects. Because of the amount of financial exposure involved, they're often settled outside of court rather than proceeding to trial.

While class action lawsuits often get settled for tens of millions of dollars, individual plaintiffs usually receive a very small amount if they win such a case. It's not uncommon for individuals to end up with a settlement of fewer than one thousand dollars. Most of the award goes to attorneys' fees.

Know what unfair trade practices are unlawful in West Virginia

State and federal government regulators often share messages such as "buyer beware" and "if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is" when letting consumers know how to keep themselves and their money safe. They do this in hopes that they won't fall victim to false advertising, dishonest sales tactics and other deceptive trade practices. Many Charleston residents do, though. West Virginia lawmakers have passed various laws in recent years aimed at protecting consumers and discouraging would-be schemers from engaging in unlawful practices.

West Virginia Codes 46A-6-102 and 46A-6-104 spell out what false advertising is and how it's illegal in the state. This set of statutes makes it clear that there must be transparency in labeling products, how companies must clearly state warranty terms and even details what spam mail is and isn't.

Asserting your rights if you're working

If you work for an hourly wage, the time that you spend working is very important. If, like most workers, you are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you will have the right to be paid overtime when you are working more than 40 hours in a week. The FLSA offers many additional legal protections for those who work for an hourly wage. This includes the right to minimum wage, break times and the right to be paid for all hours worked.

If you get paid by the hour but you believe that not all of the time you spend working is included, you may be working "off the clock." Working off the clock means that some of the time you spend working is not being compensated for. This could mean that you are missing out on wages, or potentially not qualifying for overtime pay when you otherwise should. Therefore, it's important that you understand your rights under the FLSA and that you take appropriate action to gain the payment that you are owed.

West Virginia employers can fire you for (almost) any reason

West Virginia (WV) is an at-will state for employment, much like many others in the United States. Employers who uphold this doctrine can generally sever the employment relationship that they share with a worker for any non-discriminatory reason and at any point in time. Employers may be unable to terminate a worker if their employees are subject to a contract or local or state laws prohibit their dismissal.

State laws such as WV Code Sec. 21-3-19 prohibit employers from letting workers go from the job simply because they use tobacco products privately.

Do any federal laws protect lemon car buyers?

West Virginia is one of many states that has lemon car laws on the books. There are limits to them just like any other rule or regulation, though. There are at least three pieces of federal legislation that deal with bad cars.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a Used Car Rule. Any automobile dealer who sells at least five vehicles annually must place a Buyers Guide inside of any used cars that they sell. That document must spell out whether a car comes with a warranty or if it's for sale "as is." If the vehicle has a warranty, then dealers are expected to list significant problems that can go wrong with used automobiles. They should also spell out what percentage of repairs that a dealership may cover.

Don't fall victim to these sneaky car sales tactics

Car salesmen can be very deceptive. They sometimes use unethical tactics to try to entice you to purchase a vehicle. They even do things to push the overall cost of the vehicle higher. They may try to accomplish this by increasing the interest rate or extending the payment period.

Many car salespersons love it when buyers walk into the showroom and have no knowledge as to how much a vehicle should cost. This is why consumers should review auto prices on websites such as Edmunds.com and kbb.com before they head out to the auto dealer's lot.

Why do employers misclassify employees?

Employers commonly misclassify employees. If you're a worker here in West Virginia, then you may wonder why companies do this and why it matters to you. There are many reasons that employers do this, and they're often intentional. They do so to keep their operating costs low. They hope that they won't get caught red-handed doing it.

Most employers that have at least 50 full-time employees are required to provide medical coverage to at least 95% of their workers to remain in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is one of the reasons why smaller companies are quite strategic with how they classify employees. They try to avoid having to pay for health coverage at all costs.

What rights should employees expect in the workplace?

Employee and employer relationships are often complicated and difficult to navigate. One of the most useful tools both employers and employees have to keep these relationships stable is a strong employment contract. In a contract, all the parties involved agree to treat each other in a certain way and meet established expectations, broadly speaking.

However, when these relationships hit rough waters, it is useful to have a strong understanding of the ways an employee can protect themselves and their rights. Under Federal and state laws, employees have certain rights that employers must respect, or they may face legal and financial consequences.

Seniors: Beware of fraudulent business practices targeting you!

Seniors tend to be the most susceptible to fraud. A recent American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) study revealed that 83% of the wealth in the United States is held by those over the age of 50. That same research revealed that those individuals in their 70s and 80s have the highest net worth. This is why this age group is often defrauded.

The number of reported cases of suspected elderly fraud is relatively low. You shouldn't let those statistics fool you though. Many victims don't report what has happened to them. This makes it difficult for lawmakers to determine losses. Only one in 44 cases are ever reported. The annual losses associated with those cases is between $3 and $36 billion.

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The Grubb Law Group

The Grubb Law Group
1114 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25301

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