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What Do I Do if My Employer Didn’t Pay Me in Virginia?

  • By: lipplaw
    Published: September 22, 2023

In Virginia, employers who fail to pay employees’ wages can be in violation of the Virginia Wage Payment Act (VWPA).  An employee whose employer withholds wages may either pursue a claim administratively or through formal litigation.   Employees who opt for the administrative process may file a complaint with Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), which then investigates the claim and determines whether the employer is liable for unpaid wages.  The VWPA, however, does not require an employee to go through the DOLI process before suing their employer directly in Virginia court.

Can I Sue My Employer in Virginia for Unpaid Wages?

Yes, an employee can file a lawsuit against an employer for violating the Virginia Wage Payment Act (VWPA).

The VWPA applies to all employers, regardless of size.  Wages under this law are considered compensation owed to the employee for services performed on behalf of an employer, including nondiscretionary bonuses and commissions.  The VWPA also permits employees to join together and pursue a class action lawsuit against employers for unpaid wages.

An employee should consider working with an attorney who can assist with drafting and filing a complaint in the proper Virginia court to recover unpaid wages.

Can I Get My Attorneys’ Fees Paid if I have to Sue my Employer for Unpaid Wages?

Yes, an employee is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs if the employer is found liable for unpaid wages. This entitlement to attorneys’ fees comes from the Virginia Wage Payment Act (VWPA).

How Much Money Can I Recover if My Employer Doesn’t Pay Me My Wages?

Employees can recover all unpaid wages owed to them, liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid wages owed, prejudgment interest equal to eight-percent of the unpaid wages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

If, however, an employer “knowingly” failed to pay wages, an employee can recover treble damages (i.e., three times the amount of the unpaid wages), rather than unpaid wages and liquidated damages.  In “knowing” instances, an employer may also be liable for civil penalties.  An employer “knowingly” withholds wages when they have actual knowledge of, act in deliberate ignorance of, or act in reckless disregard of information about not paying an employee’s wages.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Unpaid Wage Claims in Virginia?

3 years; this means that employees have three years to file a lawsuit under the VWPA.  If, however, the employee first files an administrative complaint, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until the administrative proceedings are either resolved or withdrawn by the employee.

Talk to an experienced Virginia employment law attorney.

If you are an employee whose employer has withheld your wages, it is important to seek guidance from an experienced employment attorney who can assess your claim and help you determine your best options for recovery.  The Lipp Law Firm, PC attorneys can assist you with pursuing the necessary action to resolve unpaid wage claims.  Do not hesitate to contact a Lipp Law employment attorney today to determine whether your rights have been violated and you have a path to recover unpaid wages.

Contact us today to learn more about how to recover unpaid wages. 

Kathryn Megan Lipp

Katie dedicates her practice to employment separation guidance.
Based on her successful employment litigation practice...Read More