Public News

Virginia Residents: Support Stronger Wage Laws
1/21/2019

Workers should be paid when they work – plain and simple. If they are not, they should have access to legal recourse. House Bills 1687 and 2524 grant employees the right to sue in court for unpaid wages and has strict penalties if an employer knowingly withholds wages from their workers.

House Bills 1687 & 2524 are a necessary remedy. Under current Virginia law, a worker's only remedy for lost wages is to file a complaint with the Department of Labor and Industry. There is no option to file a lawsuit. 

Virginia lacks the adequate resources to deal with the scope of the problem. The Department of Labor and Industry does not have the resources to collect back wages for all of Virginia's workers. They receive over 30,000 contacts from workers per year with only a handful of enforcement officials. 

Virginia is one of very few states whose wage law does not allow private lawsuits. North and South Carolina provide a "private right of action," and South Carolina's code awards workers' triple back pay plus attorneys' fees for successful lawsuits. 

HB 1687 (Krizek) & HB 2524 (Campbell) summarized: Right to sue for non-payment of wages provided that an employee has a private cause of action against an employer who fails to pay wages to recover the amount of wages due plus interest at eight percent annually from the date the wages were due. If the court finds that the employer knowingly failed to pay wages, the court shall award the employee reasonable attorney fees and other costs. If the court finds that the employer's failure to pay wages was willful and with intent to defraud the employee, the court shall also award the employee three times the amount of wages due. 

Virginia residents of Local 443 and Local 219: protect your future by contacting your local representative. If you’re not sure were to begin, visit www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative and input your zip code to find the contact information for your local representative.