Report: Virginia rarely helps workers collect unpaid wages from deadbeat employers

Ronaldo Gonzalez Vasquez says his employer owed him two weeks of pay when his once-reliable boss stopped responding to phone calls and text messages.

News Story (Virginia)

Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury
December 4, 2019

Tags: Wage Theft

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Justice Center (Virginia)


Gonzalez Vasquez’s experience is surprising, but typical, according to the Legal Aid Justice Center, which released an analysis last month that found the department rarely recovers wages for workers while going easy on employers accused of wage theft.

The review, which included cases closed between January 2015 and May of this year, concluded:

• The state ordered employers to pay back wages in less than 19 percent of cases, or 736 of 3,948 claims.

• The state didn’t investigate nearly half of the wage claims filed, dismissing 47 percent without a review, many times based on internal policies that block claims in cases where, for instance, a worker received tips, had a written contract, or consulted a lawyer about their case.

• The department almost never holds employers it finds have committed wage theft accountable beyond seeking repayment, issuing just nine fines and referring no cases for follow-up by law enforcement.