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The Conley Law Office, PLLC handles employment law matters throughout the West Virginia, including cases alleging discrimination and harassment under Title VII, the ADA, and other laws, as well as claims of retaliation against employees for exercising protected rights.
Although West Virginia recognizes the concept of at will employment, and employees not under contract may generally be let go at any time for any reason, employers are still bound to follow the law and many do unlawfully discriminate. A termination for an illegal reason may be challenged by a worker in court and the remedies for a wrongful termination can range from reinstatment with back pay to money damages and other penalties.
Employment Discrimination and Harassment
State and federal laws protect the right of the worker to be free from discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on a number of characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age or disability. Title VII and other laws prohibit discrimination at every phase of the employment process, including hiring, pay, transfers and assignments, promotions, discipline and termination.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects a qualified individual with a disability from discrimination. This may sound straightforward, but it is not always as simple as it seems. For instance, having a disability means having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, but it could also mean having a record of a disability or simply being regarded as having a disability. A “qualified individual with a disability” is one who can perform the essential function of at the job with our without reasonable accommodations. What does it mean to be “impaired” or “substantially limited,” and what is defined as “major life activity?” In addition, what are “reasonable accommodations” and what are the “essential functions” of the job? These questions have all been litigated in the courts and revisited in statutory amendments and federal regulation over the past 20 years. One thing the government has made clear recently is that the law is to be read broadly and lean toward covering and protecting more people rather than less.
The law of sexual harassment has evolved from only considering quid pro quo sexual harassment, where a supervisor conditions favorable or unfavorable job treatment on a subordinate’s willingness to be sexually or romantically involved with the superior, to prohibiting hostile work environments. A hostile environment is created when unwelcome sexual conduct is so severe and pervasive that the workplace becomes a hostile or threatening place to be. This unwelcome conduct may be perpetuated by a supervisor or it may involve co-workers or others present in the workplace.
Many employment laws also prohibit retaliatory discharge – being fired in retaliation for filing a lawful complaint. This may include filing a discrimination complaint to EEOC or a state agency, or it may include whistleblowing – reporting safety violations or illegal conduct to government agencies or even inside the company. Filing complaints or reporting unlawful activity are encouraged behaviors and are therefore protected from retaliation by law. An employee could still be subjected to discipline – even fired in certain circumstances – for taking improper actions in in compliance with the proper statutory or company procedures for filing a complaint.
Help From an Experienced Employment Lawyer
Our firm has helped both employers and employees in employment law matters, giving us a unique perspective which aids in the resolution of disputes or successful outcomes at trial. If you have discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or other employment law claims, contact Conley Law Office, PLLC, to discuss your case with a qualified and experienced attorney.