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Business Interference

In general, tortious interference with an existing contract not terminable at will requires four elements. 1) A valid contractual relationship; 2) knowledge of the relationship by the interferer; 3) intentional interference; and 4) damage to the relationship.

A terminable at will contract requires the additional element of “improper methods.”  Duggin v.

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Experienced Fairfax VA Personal Injury Lawyer

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What is Wage Theft?

Wage Theft is the nonpayment or under-payment of wages.

  • Employees are not paid minimum wage or overtime
  • Employees do not receive a final paycheck
  • Employees are not paid for time worked
  • Employers misclassify employees as  independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime
  • Employers take illegal deductions from an employee’s paycheck

What are the federal laws prohibiting Job Discrimination?

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Civil Rights Act of 1991

There are other federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation and some state and local regulations may apply.

Can I sue for a Hostile Work Environment?

Verbal or physical conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or retaliation, may amount to unlawful harassment.  If the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment; or if a supervisor’s harassing conduct results in a tangible change in an employee’s employment status or benefits (demotion, termination, failure to promote, etc.), there may be a right to sue.

Am I entitled to compensation?

If you are physically injured due to the fault of another you may be entitled to compensation for bodily injuries, physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, deformity, humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience, medical and surgical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity.

Do I pay a legal fee?

We handle Personal Injury cases on a contingency basis, which means we only collect a legal fee if we collect money for our client. The fee is a percentage of the recovery. There are no up-front legal fees.

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Experienced Fairfax VA Business Lawyers

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Is my non-compete valid?

Non-compete agreements are disfavored in Virginia.  They must be narrowly tailored to protect the employer’s legitimate business interest, must not be unduly burdensome on the employee’s ability to earn a living, and must not be against public policy.  Omniplex v. US Investigations, 270 Va. 246 (2005).

Is it illegal for another company to interfere with my business and what can I do about it?

In general, a legal claim for tortious interference with an existing contract not terminable at will requires four elements. 1) A valid contractual relationship; 2) knowledge of the relationship by the interferer; 3) intentional interference; and 4) damage to the relationship.  A contract terminable at will requires an additional element, that is, interference by “improper methods.” Illegal methods are considered improper, but improper methods need not be illegal.  They can include other actions including but not limited to fraud, misrepresentation, misuse of inside information, breach of a fiduciary relationship, violation of an established standard of trade, unethical conduct and unfair competition. There are defenses to tortious interference with contract which can loosely be called “justification or privilege” and they include legitimate business competition, financial interest, responsibility for the welfare of another, directing business policy and giving requested advice.

Another claim is conspiracy to injure a business, which is a conspiracy between two or more persons to accomplish an unlawful purpose, or a conspiracy to accomplish some lawful purpose by unlawful means, resulting in damage.  There is common law conspiracy based on case law, and statutory conspiracy which can be found in Va. Code § 18.2-499 & 500.  Statutory conspiracy is attractive because it allows for an award of attorney fees, and treble damage awards.  It must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher standard than preponderance of the evidence, which is the standard for tortious interference with contract.  The tort of tortious interference with contract can be the predicate unlawful act to support a claim for civil conspiracy.

What is the time limit for filing a mechanics lien?

In Virginia, a mechanic’s lien must be filed within 90 days from the last day of the month in which the labor or materials were furnished.

Do I have to have a contractor’s license to get paid?

It depends. Some types of work do not require any contractor’s licenses. Other times, the lack of a contractor’s license is not a bar to collection. The mechanic’s lien statute relating to enforcement is to be liberally construed in favor workers. See American Standard Homes Corp. v. Reinecke, 245 Va. 113 (1993). Virginia does not make a lack of licensure an automatic bar to a suit for payment for work. See First Charter Land Corp. v. Middle Atlantic Dredging, Inc. 218 Va. 304 (1977)(“Lack of Licensure” defense defeated where proof showed owner failed to apprise contractor of registration statute and contractor substantially performed work in good faith). And where a contractor is “innocently unaware of the substantive requirements of the contractor’s statutes, his lack of licensure cannot be used as a defense ….” Dodson Roofing Co. v. Johnson, 32 Va. Cir. 400 (City of Richmond)(March 1, 1994).

My boss says I’m a contractor. Does that mean I cannot get overtime pay?

Even "contractors" can be entitled to overtime pay.  How your boss labels you may not matter under federal law. Accordingly to the Department of Labor, the factors that a court will consider are: 1) The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business; 2) Whether the worker’s managerial skills affect his or her opportunity for profit and loss; 3) The relative investments in facilities and equipment by the worker and the employer; 4) The worker’s skill and initiative; 5) The permanency of the worker’s relationship with the employer; and 6) The nature and degree of control by the employer.

Does my employer have to pay me overtime and my “fringes” on government funded projects?

Yes. Recently a federal appeals court ruled that when the FLSA requires overtime be not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which the worker is employed, the ‘regular rate’ to be used for this calculus is the rate set forth under the Davis Bacon Act. See Jorge Amaya v. Power Design, Inc., 15-1691 (4th Cir. 2016)

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Is it serious?

Many reckless driving tickets do not result in jail time or a license suspension in Northern Virginia. When faced with such a charge, you can expect to receive unsolicited mail from attorneys warning of dire consequences, including jail. Rather than attempting to scare you, an experienced traffic attorney should be able to give you an honest evaluation of potential outcomes. In many cases, the likely outcome does not involve a trip to jail.

Benny Zurita Legal Assistant