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West Virginia Consumer Protection and Employment Law Blog

Are you an at-will employee?

You go to work in Charleston every day confident that you the only way you could lose your job would be if you give your employer a reason to fire. So if you are approached out-of-the-blue with news that you are fired, your confusion is understandable. Can an employer really fire its employees for no good reason? Surprisingly, the answer to that question is yes, thanks to the at-will employment doctrine. 

This legal principle states that companies can fire you for any reason (or no reason at all). The basis of this is that you work for your employer at your own will, and if you chose to leave to pursue another job, you could do so according to your own will. Therefore, the law affords this same privilege to your employer to retain or dismiss you at its will. 

What are gift card scams?

Gift cards are a convenient way to show someone you care. However, many scammers also use gift cards as a means of taking money from you, which is sometimes impossible to get back. In this case, the Federal Trade Commission offers the following information on common gift card scams and how to avoid them.

In many cases, a scam artist will contact you and claim to be an authorized entity. This includes the IRS, your utility company, or even a family member. The next step often involves putting money onto a gift card, which is then transferred to the person. You’ll be asked to provide the number on the front of the gift card as well as the PIN. From here, the scammer has access to the funds you supplied.

Debit card issues prompt class action lawsuit

Class action lawsuits may allow people in Charleston (as well as throughout the country, for that matter) who have common complaints to initiate a single shared action against a defendant. Some may view the multiple nature of such lawsuits as implying that they are only available to groups with several plaintiffs. In reality, all that needs to exist is a shared grievance, even if it is only shared between two people. 

Such appears to be the case with a class action lawsuit recently filed in Minnesota against the national retail chain Target. Only two plaintiffs brought forth claims in the initial filing, one being a woman from Florida and the other a man from North Carolina. Both claim that issues in using their Target-issued debit cards led them to being assessed several fees for insufficient funds. They each state that the card does not function like a standard debit card (which immediately debits the funds from an account, or puts a hold on an amount equal to that of the transaction). Rather, they authorized purchases that were not attempted to be taken out until days later when the funds where no longer there. In their lawsuit, they are claiming that Target's advertising of the card is misleading due to the fact that its payment processing system does not allow it to function as a true debit card. 

Should I date a co-worker?

It’s not uncommon for people to spend a majority of their day at their place of work. As a result, it can be easy to enter into workplace romances, which can have a detrimental effect on a person’s career or even lead to sexual harassment claims. While it’s not legally forbidden to date a co-worker, Forbes recommends keeping the following points in mind before moving forward.

Some companies actually require their employees disclose romantic relationships. This information can usually be found within your employee handbook, which offers information on conduct and what’s expected of workers. In the event that one person holds authority over another, workplace reporting becomes a more serious issue since it could be claimed that the supervisor is playing favorites.

Does West Virginia have lemon laws?

A “lemon” refers to a vehicle that has numerous defects, thereby making its purchase suspect. Most states have lemon laws on the books to protect consumers, and West Virginia is no exception. The Better Business Bureau explains lemon laws in this state so you can remain protected from nefarious sales’ practices.

Who is protected?

What are some common scams when buying a car?

Buying a new car in West Virginia is rarely cut and dry. In some cases, car buyers can fall victim to common scams, which are intended to increase the price of the vehicle using nefarious means. This illustrates the importance of being an aware and informed buyer, which entails knowing the types of scams you may be subject to. Business Insider offers the following tips to help you do just that. 

One common scam involves advertising vehicles at reasonable prices to get buyers to the dealership. Once there, the salesperson may inform you that the advertised car is no longer available and show you vehicles that are far more expensive. You can thwart this scam by simply calling ahead before you visit. If the salesperson is evasive, simply take your business elsewhere. 

Standing firm against religious discrimination

Employees experience mistreatment for many different reasons while they are working, whether they are discriminated against due to their gender or because of some other factor that is related to the way in which they were born. These unlawful examples of discrimination are unacceptable and there are other ways in which people experience discrimination while trying to carry out their job duties. For example, someone may be discriminated against as a result of their faith and it is also important to address religious discrimination whenever it takes place. Sadly, many people have been through this firsthand and it can be incredibly challenging.

Religious discrimination can target people of various faiths and in numerous ways. Someone may be terminated, reassigned to a worse position or subjected to harassment at work because of the religious beliefs they have. Moreover, there may be times when religious discrimination is especially likely to occur, such as during certain religious holidays and other periods of intense scrutiny. For example, if someone who belongs to a particular religion carries out an attack, others who share the same religion may be targeted even though they had nothing to do with the attack.

Students join in class action lawsuit over Title IX violations

A common complaint amongst many in Charleston may be that local youth are not engaged enough in tackling the problems facing the community. This perceived lack of community engagement may not necessarily be due to an apathetic attitude, but rather a lack of knowledge as to the resources available to them. Kids and teens may face problems similar to the ones adults struggle with, and like adults, they have the opportunity to seek legal recourse if that is what is needed to adequately address the issues they are facing. Seeing them attempt to tackle their problems in such a mature manner may no doubt be inspiring to others in the community. 

That is exactly what a pair of high school students in Hawai'i are hoping to do by participating in a federal class action lawsuit against the state's Department of Education and the local high school activities association. Their claim is that these entities have been in violation of Title IX by de-emphasizing girls' sports at a local high school. They point to the fact that added resources have been poured into boys' programs in recent years while those available to the girls have waned. Boys sports teams are also afforded more opportunities to travel and play at bigger venues and on weekends, while the girls are left to play during the week (which can impact their school work). The lawsuit also claims that not enough opportunities are being afforded to girls to participate in sports. 

How does a class action lawsuit work?

When a large group of people feels wronged by the same company, person or entity, they may become part of a class action lawsuit in West Virginia. This type of case is different than a typical one in that there are multiple plaintiffs represented by one main plaintiff. According to How Stuff Works, to be a class action suit, it must involve people from different states and have a claim that is more than $5 million.

To start this type of case, it first must have a judge certify it. The judge will determine if there is a case and then define who may be a part of it. For example, the judge may say the plaintiffs may be that anyone who bought the product in question from the defendant between two dates.

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