Employment Law in Virginia
All of us need to work to earn a living. And when you are in the workplace in Virginia, you are subject to all the rights and responsibilities associated with Virginia employment law – whether you are the employer or the employee.
Virginia’s “At-Will” Doctrine
But wait – isn’t Virginia an “at-will” employment state? And doesn’t that mean I can fire or be fired for no reason at all? Why do I need an employment law lawyer?
The truth is employment law in Virginia is much more complicated than “at-will” employment. For example, you might have a contract. That means if you are an employee, you have rights under that contract. If you are an employer, you may have obligations to your employee under the contract that prevent you from just terminating him or her. You might need a Virginia employment lawyer to draft a contract, help you better understand the contract, or to sue when that contract is broken.
Some people think they can get around employment law (and taxes) by simply having “independent contractors.” However, depending on how you treat those “independent contractors,” they could be considered “employees” under Virginia law – even though you issued them 1099s and called them contractors, or even when they held themselves out as contractors. And if they are considered employees, you are responsible for paying overtime, social security taxes, and many other employee-related obligations. Moreover, intentionally misclassifying employees as independent contractors to get around these obligations can lead to civil and even criminal penalties. So, before you decide to hire “independent contractors,” it is a good idea to consult with a, experienced Virginia employment lawyer at May Law, LLP.
In addition, discrimination is illegal in Virginia and this can arise frequently in the employment context. For example, what if you have done nothing wrong and your boss just fires you. Was it because you were different than your fellow employees? Are you the only person of a certain race, gender, religion or other characteristic and is this why you were fired? What if you are an employer and you must terminate someone for non-performance – and then you are accused of discrimination?
In each of these situations, it is important to have a skilled Virginia employment lawyer evaluate the matter and advise you how to proceed. It doesn’t mean that these cases are easy to prove, but we can help you as an employer, (before you make a change in your workforce), or as an employee, (if you suspect you may be terminated or want to quit). We can also help on the front end, helping employers draft or adopt employment manuals and policies that hold up in lawsuits, and answering employee questions about whether or not it is advisable to sign an agreement, performance review, severance package or acceptance of termination. Our attorneys at May Law, LLP see these claims from both sides on a daily basis.
Recent Changes in Employment Law
Virginia employment law is always changing. Issues like minimum wage, non-compete agreements, and union membership are considered by the legislature every year. Most recently, the Virginia General Assembly updated Virginia employment laws by passing the “Virginia Values Act.” This new law has sweeping changes that impact employers and employees in every sector in Virginia. If you are an employer or an employee and you have an employment-related issue in Virginia, let the Virginia employment lawyers at May Law, LLP help you to understand your rights and protect your business.