Can Employers Pay Under Minimum Wage in Virginia

Virginia minimum wage laws are created to protect employees from exploitation and unduly low pay. But what happens when you are being paid under minimum wage in Virginia? Is it illegal? Does your employer owe you more?


Virginia Minimum Wage Laws


Virginia minimum wage is set at $12 per hour, based on federal guidelines. These laws ensure that employers fairly compensate employees for the work they complete. Most employees are covered by this law and must be paid at least the minimum wage.


Employees who may not fall under the minimum wage laws include:


  • People who work in domestic settings like nannies
  • Individuals who work and earn wages according to the amount of work completed
  • People whose earning capacity is limited by disability
  • Individuals employed by a business with fewer than four employees


Who is Exempt from Minimum Wage Laws?


Some employees are not covered by standard minimum wage laws. These include:


  • Nonprofit volunteer workers
  • Farm laborers/workers
  • Summer camp employees
  • Golf course caddies
  • Workers under 18 employed by parents or legal guardians
  • Workers under 16, regardless of employer
  • Individuals who are exempt from federal minimum wage
  • Full time students enrolled in work study or an equivalent program
  • Temporary foreign workers
  • Employees working on a commission basis
  • Students participating in a bona-fide education program.


Wages for Tipped Employees


The laws work a bit differently for employees that make substantial earning from tips. Federal and state laws identify tipped employees as workers who regularly earn tips that equal more than $30 per month. This includes people who wait tables, clean hotel rooms, open doors, etc.


These employees are protected under Virginia’s minimum wage laws, so they are entitled to $12 per hour. However, the laws permit employers to count part, or even all of an employee’s tips towards that minimum wage amount. Essentially, employers can pay these employees a salary lower than the minimum wage, as long as the employee makes enough in tips to make up the difference.


Can Employers Pay Under Minimum Wage in Virginia


While the laws do protect employees, there will always be employers who wish to take advantage of these laws. If you believe that your employer is not fairly compensating you for your work, either by withholding tips or paying less than minimum way illegally, you should speak to an attorney about the situation. To learn more, please contact Cook, Criag, and Francuzenko today.

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