Category Archives: Liquidated damages

Legislative Update: West Virginia legislature may give employers more time to cut final paycheck

Pending West Virginia legislation would, if passed, extend the time employers have to issue a terminated employee’s final paycheck, from the current 72 hours after discharge to the next regular pay day.

On January 28, 2011, Senators Palumbo and Klempa introduced Senate Bill 339, which is being referred to the Labor and Finance Committees. You can keep track of the progress of the bill by going to the Bill Status page and entering 339 in the “Enter Bill Number” field. For information on the bill’s sponsors, or on any other members of the Senate, you can go to the Senate Members page and pick the member from a drop-down list.

Senate Bill 339 would amend the WV Wage Payment and Collection Act, which deals in part with the obligation of an employer to issue a final paycheck to an employee within a certain period of time.  The Wage Payment and Collection Act currently sets two different deadlines, depending on whether the employee resigned or was discharged.

  • Section 21-5-4(b): If an employee is discharged, the employer must pay the employee all earned wages within 72 hours after the discharge.
  • Section 21-5-4(c): if the employee resigns, the employer must pat the employee all earned wages by the next regular payday, either through “regular channels” or, if the employee requests, by mail. There is this additional variation where the employee resigns: if the employee provides “at least one pay period’s notice of intention to quit”, then the employer must pay the employee all earned wages “at the time of quitting” (which is the final day worked after giving notice).

Continue reading Legislative Update: West Virginia legislature may give employers more time to cut final paycheck

Cleveland jury awards $900,000 against hospital in age discrimination case

Ellen Simon, an attorney in Cleveland who authors the excellent blog, Ellen Simon’s Employee Rights Post, recently tried an age discrimination claim for plaintiff Gloria Parks (a phlebotomist) against Cleveland’s University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Ms. Parks had worked for the hospital for 30 years when she was fired over a medical mistake involving herself and another much younger employee. The hospital fired Ms. Parks, but not the much younger employee.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff (Ms. Parks) for $450,000 for her economic loss and $450,000 for “other compensatory damages”, according to Ms. Simon’s blog article. Based on the limited information I have so far, it looks like the “other compensatory damages” was an award for emotional distress, The jury did not award punitive damages.

So the verdict totals $900,000, and Ms. Simon will file a request for attorneys’ fees‘ fees and expenses. While it is not clear from the article so far, I suspect the case was asserted for age discrimination under Ohio’s Fair Employment Practices Act (and not the federal ADEA).

Continue reading Cleveland jury awards $900,000 against hospital in age discrimination case

Back from the USSR: FMLA Retaliation, 4th Circuit Decision in Dotson v Pfizer

Retaliation law is one of the most developing (and dangerous) areas of employment law. I recently spoke at the West Virginia Employment Lawyers Association’s annual conference on retaliation law, and I wanted to go back and discuss an important Fourth Circuit decision on the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.

Dotson v. Pfizer: Adoption and the FMLA

The decision is Dotson v. Pfizer Inc., 558 F.3d 284 (2009), and involved allegations of retaliation stemming from leave taken for an international adoption from Russia.

The jury awarded $1,876 in damages on the FMLA interference claim and $331,429.25 on FMLA retaliation claim. The judge then awarded $333,305.25 in statutory liquidated damages, $375,000 in attorneys’ fees, and $14,264.88 in court costs. Both sides appealed. The Fourth Circuit rejected all aspects of the employer’s appeal, but found the trial court made a mistake in refusing to award the plaintiff pre-judgment interest. Continue reading Back from the USSR: FMLA Retaliation, 4th Circuit Decision in Dotson v Pfizer