Virginia did not have its own overtime laws until recent approval of the Virginia Overtime Wage Act (“VOWA”), in Virginia House Bill 2063, signed on March 30, 2021 by Governor Ralph Northam. Before VOWA, those that sought unpaid overtime compensation had to previously rely on federal law through the Fair Labor Standards Act, known as FLSA. While VOWA is similar to the FLSA, it increases costs and penalties (both civil and criminal) for Virginia employers that don’t pay required overtime to employees in a timely manner.
Similar to the FLSA, Virginia’s new overtime law requires payment of time and a half at an employee’s regular rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. But while the VOWA largely is similar to the FLSA, significant differences are likely to result in new liabilities for Virginia employers and higher damages for overtime violations for employees in Virginia that have not received their overtime pay.
VOWA will result in a change in strategy for lawyers seeking unpaid overtime for employees. VOWA establishes a new formula for calculations for salaried employees in Virginia which will result in larger recoveries in overtime cases. VOWA will also yield larger recoveries for misclassified workers. While the FLSA has a 2-year statute of limitations to bring overtime claims, unless they are willful (intentional), VOWA extends this to 3 years. This will clearly bring greater liability to employers.
Finally, VOWA presumes an employees’ ability to obtain double damages for all overtime violations. FLSA permits employers to argue, as a defense, that they acted in good faith in response to such claims; VOWA takes this defense away. Under VOWA, all overtime wage violations are subject to double damages (in addition to pre-judgment interest of 8% per year). Finally, VOWA goes further and permits triple damages for employees where an employer had actual knowledge that it failed to pay the overtime wages due and acted in deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard as to whether it was paying all overtime wages owed.
VOWA also adds criminal provisions against employers. Employers can be now found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the value of the overtime wages earned and not paid is less than $10,000. If the amount unpaid is over $10,000, the employer can be found liable for a Class 6 Felony charge. A felony charge can also apply no matter the amount of wages at issue for a second conviction. There is a lot to sort out with the new VOWA overtime legislation in Virginia, but employees are going to have much stronger state claims for overtime in the future.
If you are in need of employment law legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia former employees are entitled to all of their previously earned wages, even if they are terminated from their employment. However, for various reasons sometimes employers attempt to avoid paying an employee their last paycheck. There are many reasons that this occurs. However, the nonpayment of wages owed can cause significant hardship for an employee and can be a costly mistake for an employer. There are laws and regulations that govern the issues related to the nonpayment of wages in the Commonwealth of Virginia at the state and federal levels.
When Last Paychecks are Due
An employer generally should pay a former employee’s final paycheck by the next pay period as it would be regularly due. Some state laws vary on this issue, but failure to make prompt payment can violate a number of wage and overtime laws on a state and federal level. State wage laws can cover non-payment and federal laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), can cover non-payment of overtime.
Virginia Wage Law
The Virginia Code § 40.1-29 provides that final payments to a terminated employee should be made on or before the employee would have normally been paid had the employee not been terminated. The Virginia Code imposes civil and criminal penalties for nonpayment of wages by an employer. The Virginia Code further prohibits employers from deducting portions of a final payment without the former employee’s consent with the exception of standard taxes and withholdings.
A number of state vary on the issue of whether an employee is entitled to receive accrued vacation or sick leave upon an employee’s departure. Virginia has taken the approach that fringe benefits such as vacation/annual/holiday leave, sick leave or severance pay are not required to be paid out by a former employer under the law. In addition, Virginia employers may establish any policy or no policy regarding fringe benefits at the termination of an employee.
If an employee in Virginia is confronted with nonpayment of final wages, the employee can contact the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry may assist an employee in obtaining payment of final wages after the employee files a complaint, but it does not handle claims for wages over the amount of $15,000. Additionally, the failure to pay wages can be pursued in the court system.
Federal Wage Law
The FLSA is a federal law which governs the payment of overtime to employees. When an employer does not make timely payment of a final check which includes overtime, there could be a FLSA violation which could be costly for an employer in terms of damages. If the payment of lost wages involves unpaid overtime, the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division may be contacted and an investigation may be initiated for FLSA overtime violations by the former employer. Additionally, the failure to pay overtime can also be pursued in court.
We represent employees and employers in regards to non-payment of wage cases. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.