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West Virginia Consumer Protection and Employment Law Blog

Why do workers file wages and hours complaints in West Virginia?

The West Virginia Division of Labor (DOL) is responsible for investigating potential violations of state wages and hours laws.

While West Virginia employers aren't required to provide their employees with fringe benefits, companies are required to abide by the policies that they do put in writing regarding them. Employees may sue their employer who fails to pay these earned fringe benefits to collect any monies due. West Virginians commonly reach out to the state DOL office to collect bonuses and similar incentives, holiday, vacation and/or annual and sick leave that's gone unpaid.

Class-action lawsuits can help you seek smaller damages

When many different people experience the same issue with a person or company, they can join together to file either a class-action lawsuit or a mass tort against the party responsible for their injuries or losses. Many people feel skeptical about class-action lawsuits, in part because joining one involves waving your individual rights.

While it is true that participants in a class-action lawsuit do not have the option of bringing individual action against the same defendant later, the plaintiffs may have a better chance at success with a class-action suit as opposed to individual lawsuits, often because a class-action effort allows for the shared expenses associated with taking legal action.

Don't let car repairs deplete your finances

A federal jury ruled against the automobile manufacturer Ford in favor of the plaintiffs for the second time in recent months in late December. They decided that the automaking giant should have to pay the maximum penalties to victims for intentionally violating consumer protection laws when they rendered their decisions in both cases.

In one case, a husband and wife argued that they discontinued making payments on their 2014 Ford Focus after they stopped using the vehicle. They quit driving it because they felt that it was unsafe. In court filings, the pair outlined how the vehicle's PowerShift transmission experienced constant problems including unexpectedly losing power, shaking and surging. That couple ultimately recovered $23,000, an amount which equals three times what they originally leased the vehicle for, to cover the hassles they endured with the vehicle.

Hold parties accountable for engaging in deceptive advertising

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a certain standard that they refer to as "Truth in Advertising" that all marketing campaigns must adhere to. It doesn't matter what format marketing efforts come in either. Federal law requires all advertising efforts to be truthful and never deceptive.

FTC officials monitor all different types of advertising, whether it comes in the form of a billboard, online, radio, in a magazine or newspaper or via snail mail. While they review any marketing materials made for a variety of products, they pay particularly close attention to technology, over-the-counter drug, alcohol, food, tobacco and dietary supplement ads. They do this because these are the types of products that are most apt to be costly and have the potential to adversely impact a person's health.

What exactly is pregnancy discrimination?

Discriminating against a worker simply on the basis that they're pregnant, have recently given birth or on any other related grounds is illegal under federal law. Any woman in West Virginia that is treated in a way that violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which forms part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

An employer cannot allow a prospective employee's pregnancy to affect whether or not they're hired for a particular role with the company. It's illegal for an employer to let a worker's pregnancy impact what type of position they're considered for and whether they're offered certain training opportunities, promotions or benefits. An employer cannot let an employee's pregnancy affect whether they're laid off or fired from their job either.

West Virginia's attorney general warns of a Social Security scam

West Virginia's attorney general (AG) issued a public warning to state residents to be on the lookout for the latest Social Security (SS) scam earlier this week. He pointed out that many individuals have been receiving calls from individuals purporting to be calling from the attorney general's office in recent weeks. The caller requests the target individual's Social Security number (SSN) once they get them on the phone.

The AG pointed out that his office has received several dozen reports from West Virginians who have fielded such calls just this week alone. The caller reportedly tells their unsuspecting target that they've uncovered fraudulent activity and that they've going to deny their SS benefits when they call. The caller then requests their target's SSN saying that they're going to verify it against their records. This is all a hoax as they don't have the number in the first place. The caller threatens to pursue legal action if the target doesn't readily turn that information over to them.

Is your employer trying to punish you for reporting an injury?

Every day in the state of West Virginia, people get hurt and need to seek the protection of workers' compensation benefits. In most of these situations, a successful claim results in medical coverage and disability benefits that can protect workers from the financial impact of medical bills and lost wages while they recover. In other cases, a claim could result in an employer fighting the claim and even retaliating against the worker.

Whether you work in the coal mines or as a receptionist in a busy medical office, you have some degree of risk for developing an injury or illness related to your career path. The whole point of workers' compensation insurance is to protect you from the financial consequences of getting hurt because you work.

Used cars aren't covered by West Virginia's Lemon Laws

If you've been thinking about buying a used car and you're counting on some law here in West Virginia bailing you out if it doesn't work as advertised, then think again. While the state does have a lemon law that protects new-car buyers for some time after their purchase, there are no similar protections on the books for used-car purchasers. West Virginia law was updated on July 1 giving second-hand car buyers even fewer rights.

West Virginia Code sec. 46A-6-102(4) was updated on July 1. This piece of legislation now states that dealers may sell any vehicle that's seven or more years old or that has more than 100,000 miles on it "as is". Any vehicle that is being offered for $4,000 or under may be sold this way as well.

What unlawful activities constitute auto dealer fraud?

If you think back to how car salespeople are depicted on television, they're often described as dirty, sleazy and other negative terms. Thankfully, these words don't describe all individuals who sell cars for a living. There are some unprofessional, unethical and illegal behaviors that some car salespeople have historically engaged in that have painted them in a bad light though.

Here in West Virginia and virtually every other state in the country, there are laws on the books that, if violated, may result in an individual being charged with auto dealer fraud.

There are states with worse lemon laws than West Virginia

A study published earlier this year by the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) captured how many states have weak lemon laws on the books. Many consumers end up having to settle with a far worse resolution than they should have to as a result. While some states have poorly articulated lemon laws in place, West Virginia, fortunately, isn't one of them.

CAS researchers found that most states define lemons similarly. A lemon car is one that is unusable to its owner because it has perpetual problems.

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