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Age Discrimination Protection in West Virginia
Age discrimination is not something that many people talk about. However, it is a real issue for real people. Nobody should be singled out because of age., especially when it comes to employment or other factors that can influence a person’s future. While age discrimination may make a person feel bad, it goes much deeper than that. It is against the law.
What is Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably based on their age. This could include:
- Not promoting an individual because of age-related issues
- Firing an individual because of their age
- Singling out an individual based on their age
- Not hiring an individual based on their age
- Indicating age restrictions on a job application
However, there are a number of other instances that could be considered age discrimination. The law specifically protects people who are over the age of 40. This is in response to the older population not receiving fair access to employment or advances based completely on their age. The response was to protect this age group as statistically they are the individuals who are most likely to be the focus of such bias.
How Does the Law Protect People?
The Age Discrimination Act has made this a federal issue that states must follow. In West Virginia, any business that operates with 20 or more people must adhere to the age discrimination laws. Failure to do so, allows the targeted individual to file a complaint which will begin a legal process and investigation.
The Gray Area of the Law
While the law is certainly intended to protect, there are a few gray areas. For example, the law is not designed to protect younger workers. The idea is that most people who are the focus of this type of bias is the aging community. This is not to say that younger people are not also the victim of this type of treatment, however the law does not focus on younger people. Additionally, if an employer claims that an individual is “over qualified” this does not necessarily mean it is age discrimination. Although, many people feel that it is code for saying that an employee is too old for the job.
What Should You Do?
If you or someone you know is the victim of age discrimination, do not sit idly by as your rights are being violated. You have options. You can reach out to a knowledgeable attorney and also file a complaint. To file a complaint, reach out to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This group is in charge of regulating the process associated with workplace discrimination. You can locate the local West Virginia office on their website.
Seek Legal Advice
Have you or someone you know been a victim of age discrimination? Know that the law protects your right to employment despite your age. If you suspect that you have been unjustly terminated or singled out due to your age, reach out to those who can help you. Attorneys at Hendrickson & Long have been providing quality legal defense in West Virginia for a number of years. Allow their experience to work for you. Contact them today and let them create a legal defense that you deserve.
Wrongful Termination as an At-Will Employee in the State of West Virginia
West Virginia classifies employees as “at will” status. This means that employees can essentially be fired at any time for any reason or even for no reason at all. With such laws existing, it may seem impossible for employees to file a claim against their employers. However, there are certain situations that fall into the category of wrongful termination and can be pursued in the courts. The following are reasons for wrongful termination in the state of West Virginia:
- Breach of Contract
- Schedule and Pay
- State Claims
At no time can an employee be terminated based on discriminatory bias. While employees are protected on the federal level, West Virginia has state laws that enhance the restrictions of termination based on an individual’s special characteristics. Such discrimination characteristics include:
- National origin
- HIV/AIDS status
Breach of Contract
The state of West Virginia deems contracts as legally binding. This means that if an employer has a contract or handbook that expresses that there is job security for the employee, then the employee is no longer working on an “at will” status. Even verbal promises of job security can lead to a breach of contract if the employee terminates an individual for no apparent reason.
Schedules and Pay
Employees may file wrongful termination if an employer terminates an employee based on wage or schedule issues that are protected by law. The following are basic wage and time requirements of employers:
- Employers must provide a 20-minute meal break if the workday consists of at least six hours unless employees are offered unlimited breaks and/or the ability to eat as they work.
- Employers must pay for the breaks that last 20 minutes or less.
- Employees must pay the required $7.25 minimum wage standard.
- Employees who work more than 40 hours per week qualify for overtime.
Leave and pay are predetermined based on state and federal law. Falling outside the scope of the laws can lead to a wrongful termination if an employee challenges conditions that do not meet the above mentioned standards.
Employees have certain personal and civic responsibilities that allow for time off. If employees are carrying out one of the following then employers may not terminate them:
- Jury duty
- Military leave
- Voting leave
- Family and Medical leave
Other West Virginia State laws help protect the wrongful termination of employees. Such laws include:
- Worker’s compensation
- Off-duty conduct associated with tobacco use
Neither of the above mentioned points can be used against an individual when determining his or her employment status.
While the state of West Virginia is an “at will” state, there are certain rights that are protected. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully terminated from their position, do not hesitate to reach out to knowledgeable resources that can help you. The litigation attorneys at Hendrickson and Law PLLC are located in Charleston, West Virginia. Contact them today and allow their trustworthy experience assist you with your wrongful termination claim today.