two Virgin airlines planes parked on the tarmac at an airport

Wage and hour violations are harmful to workers and should not happen in any workplace in the United States. Unfortunately, even companies with the money to pay correctly don't always do so. Take, for example, the recent case of Bernstein v. Virgin America, Inc.

A class-action lawsuit took the case to the California courts, which ordered Virgin America to pay out a shocking $77 million in damages after they found that the company had violated the California Labor Code. Virgin America was accused of violating the law by failing to provide meal and rest breaks, not paying all wages due upon termination, failing to pay overtime, and failing to pay for all hours worked. The court found that Virgin America was liable for all plaintiffs' claims and awarded the lost wages as well as damages to the workers involved in the case. The court awarded $45.3 million in damages and restitution; wage statement and waiting time penalties added another $6.7 million. The class was also awarded $3,552.71 for each day that they were not paid in interest since Oct. 25, 2018.

What's most shocking is the amount of civil penalties awarded, which were $24.9 million, around 75 percent of the maximum allowed in the case. Penalties against Virgin made up around 40 percent of all awards made to employees of the airline, showing just how serious the courts take it when a business is not paying its employees what they're supposed to receive. Violating state and federal laws is a quick way for businesses to find themselves fined thousands, if not millions, of dollars in penalties.

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