Although most employers doing business in the Mountain State have at least some familiarity with the West Virginia Wage Payment & Collection Act (“WPCA”), the law remains a unique animal that still presents the occasional pitfall for employers. If you’re an employer, these are a few of the WPCA traps that are worth keeping on your radar as you navigate this jungle:
Most employers are probably well-aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against qualified applicants and employees on the basis of disability. In Stansberry v. Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit – the jurisdiction in which Ohio and Kentucky sit – recently addressed for the first time a much less frequently litigated provision of the ADA which prohibits “association discrimination,” i.e., discrimination against an applicant or employee on the basis of his or her relationship or association with a disabled individual.
Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to address a specific yet important issue under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Specifically, the Court was asked to address whether an applicant – who had been given a conditional offer of employment – could bring a suit against his or her prospective employer under the FLSA’s retaliation provisions. In a dose of good news for employers, the Court concluded that applicants or prospective employees could not bring a claim against employers under that statute.
Every employer and human resource professional with an interest in West Virginia needs to be aware of a recent decision from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals concerning the Wage Payment and Collection Act, W. Va. § 21-5-1, et. seq. In Wolfe, et al. v. Adkins, et. al., Number 101476 (Sept. 29, 2011), the Court reversed and remanded the case to the Circuit Court of Cabell County, issuing a new syllabus point which provides clarity to a confusing area of law. Specifically, the issue was whether an employee is entitled to payment of unused, accumulated sick leave upon termination from employment. Under the WPCA, it has long been held by the Court that the WPCA itself does not define what fringe benefits are “wages” (and thus payable) but, rather, what constitutes wages are determined by the terms of the applicable employment policy.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) requires health insurance issuers and certain employer-sponsored group health plans to comply with “the applicable State external review process for such plans and issuers.” States’ external review processes must provide for external review of denials of insurance claims (and claims for group health plan benefits) for medical care based on medical necessity, appropriateness, health care setting, level of care, or effectiveness of a covered benefit. PPACA’s external review requirements were to become effective to policies issued after September 23, 2010, and then, via interim regulations, after a transition period ending on July 1, 2011.